What Should You Do If a Veterinary Employee Is a Victim of Domestic Abuse?

by easyDVM

Most employees at veterinary practices — whether veterinarians, veterinary assistants or receptionists — are women. Unfortunately, women are disproportionately affected by domestic violence: 10 million women each year are abused by their partner.

If you suspect that an employee at your veterinary practice is being abused, there are several steps you can take. Keep in mind that none of these tips are legal advice, and if you have any questions you should consult a lawyer.

Helping Your Employee

If you find out your employee is being abused, your first response may be to call the police. While that’s an admirable impulse, it’s not necessarily a good idea. If your employee’s partner discovers someone has called the police, they may harm your employee. Keep any discussions you have you about your employee’s situation completely confidential, and impress the need for privacy on any other employees who know.

Instead of acting unilaterally, it’s best to work closely with your employee to figure out what her needs are. If she can speak openly with you about her experience, ask her questions like:

  • Does she fear immediately for her safety?
  • Does she need medical attention?
  • If she needs to flee, can she do so? Does she have money and transportation available to her?
  • Does she have a plan for any children or pets that may be at home?

There are several crisis lines and nonprofits that protect and assist domestic abuse victims. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline‘s number is 800-799-7233, and they will refer you or your employee to resources in your area, including shelters and counselors.

Maintaining Accountability

Abusers seek to control their partners, and a job is a source of autonomy that threatens that control. You may see the abuser harm your employee’s work by sabotaging her transportation, forcing her to make emergency childcare arrangements or simply harassing her until she quits her job.

Even if the abuser doesn’t attempt sabotage, you may see your employee’s quality of work suffer, as she deals with a major personal crisis. As the employer, you tread a delicate line: You have to protect and support your employee while still insisting upon the high standards of her work.

Do your best to be understanding as your employee navigates this crisis, just as you would make allowances for someone going through a serious personal crisis like a death in the family. Understand that while this is going on, your employee may not be able to go the extra mile for your practice. Talk to her and understand what her limits are.

At the same time, don’t coddle your employee. Many abusers have wrecked their partners’ self-esteem, at least in the short term, and she’ll know if you’re going too easy on her. Work she can take pride in may be one of her few respites from her situation at home.

Protecting the Rest of Your Team

Domestic abusers can be famously vindictive. You need to take reasonable steps to protect your practice and employees, while still protecting the victim’s privacy.

Have an emergency procedure in place. If there’s any suspicious activity, make sure employees know to call emergency services. You don’t need to focus these instructions on the employee’s partner: It’s good advice in general.

If word does get out, you should advise your employees to not offer to put up the victim if she needs to escape. While that’s a laudable act of compassion, it puts your employees at unnecessary risk. It’s better to have your employee go to a domestic violence shelter, where her safety is assured.

It’s frightening and distressing to realize one of your employees is experiencing domestic abuse, and it’s difficult to know how to respond. With a little care, compassion and prudence, you’ll be able to stand up for her in the ways that are most helpful.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable..

How do Veterinary Practices Handle Maternity Leave for their Veterinarian Employees?

by easyDVM

The birth of a baby is often a joyful event, but it can cause disruption to a veterinarian’s career. As a veterinary practice owner, you may want to know how you can support employees who are about to become parents, as well as minimize the effect on your business. Here are some facts and tips that can help.

Maternity Leave Regulations

The federal Family Medical Leave Act obliges employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to allow employees to care for newborn babies or other family members, or to attend to their own medical conditions. As this law applies only to companies with at least 50 employees, it is not applicable to many small veterinary practices. However, some states have their own laws regarding maternity leave, so it is essential to check out the requirements for your state before setting the policy for your veterinary practice.

How Much Maternity Leave to Provide

A veterinary practice can be a tough place to work for a heavily pregnant woman or a woman who has just given birth. Employees may not be able to perform tasks that require heavy lifting in the latest stages of pregnancy or after a cesarean section. As a veterinary employer, you need to provide accommodations for employees who are not able to perform certain duties, such as getting another employee to lift animal patients up onto the examining table. In addition, exposure to radiation and anesthetic gases needs to be addressed. Depending on the degree of accommodations required, you may find it more convenient to offer a period of maternity leave so your employee can focus on delivering a healthy baby and recovering from the birth.

Most employers offer pregnancy leave without pay, although there are good reasons to consider putting in place a paid maternity leave program. Today, the numbers of male and female veterinarians are roughly the same, but enrollment in veterinary medical colleges is about 80 percent female. As these women graduate and begin to look for jobs, it is likely that they will take their family plans into account during their search. By offering a paid maternity leave program, you can attract top female talent to your veterinary practice.

Relief Veterinarians

If you run a very small veterinary practice with only a few employees, temporarily losing a veterinarian to maternity leave can present challenges. Relief veterinarians can help you cope and avoid the temptation to rush a new mother back to work before she is ready to return. It is a good idea to find a reliable relief veterinarian long before you need one to cover a period of maternity leave. Relief veterinarians can be classed as either independent contractors or part-time employees depending on the precise relationship between the veterinarian and your practice, so be sure you understand the differences and the legal implications in each case.

Managing the Return to Work

When employees return to work after maternity leave, it is a good idea to meet with them and discuss any accommodations they will need during the first few weeks back on the job. For example, offering lactation breaks can help employees who are still nursing a child to express milk. Over the long term, employees who are now parents of young children may require extra flexibility in their working hours. If you can provide these accommodations, you increase the probability of retaining talented employees who are also proud parents.

EasyDVM Practice Software is a cloud-based veterinary practice management software system. We pride ourselves in offering a system that is user-friendly, easy to learn for new team members, full-featured and elegant in its simplicity. Best of all, all devices, multiple users, all your clients and patients, always affordable..