White House establishing domestic violence policy for agencies

Federal government can become a model for all employers, Biden says.

President Obama sent a memorandum Wednesday to all agency and department heads directing them to establish policies for addressing domestic violence among the federal workforce.

“We know that domestic violence doesn’t just stay in the home. It can extend into the workplace, with devastating effects on its victims and costs that ripple across the economy. Federal employees aren’t immune,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement. “The president’s memorandum sends a message about what the federal government -- and all employers -- can do to end this abuse.”

After consulting with several agency heads, the Office of Personnel Management will release guidance on domestic violence, including how best to assist employees who are victims, leave policies relating to domestic violence situations and disciplinary actions to take against employees who commit or threaten acts of domestic violence.

According to the memo, managers must submit to OPM within 90 days any current agency-specific policies and practices regarding domestic violence.

Within 120 days after OPM issues new guidelines on domestic violence, each agency must develop or modify its domestic violence policies and submit the new or revised plan to OPM. After receiving these drafts, OPM will review them, and another 180 days after the draft submission, each agency must create and submit their final domestic violence policy.

“Today, President Obama directed the federal government to become a model for all employers in providing a safe workplace and support for any employees who suffer from domestic violence,” Biden said. “For the first time, all federal agencies are required to establish policies to respond to the legitimate needs of employees who are being abused and who might need help.”

The memo comes just as the White House pushes to have the 1994 Violence Against Women Act reauthorized. After expiring in 2011, the act has become the source of a heated partisan battle in the Senate.

“While we wait for Congress to reauthorize this critically needed legislation, the federal government is doing its part,” Biden said in the press release.