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April 16, 1998 

Council urges Legislature to reject duplicative bill on workplace violence

A plan to force employers to implement programs to prevent workplace violence is too broad and duplicates ongoing programs, The Business Council has argued in a memo opposing the bill. The Assembly has passed the bill. The Senate has referred it to the Senate Labor Committee. The bill would force employers to conduct studies, implement policies, and begin new workplace training - whether or not there is a demonstrated need for these initiatives, said Minnick. "Imposition of this type of uniform mandate, without regard for the need, size, location or type of business, is the last step toward a solution, not the first," Minnick said in a memo to the Senate Labor Committee. "The Business Council would prefer to see efforts toward a cooperative solution before a mandate such as this is enacted," he added.The 1997 Domestic Violence Employee Awareness and Assistance law authorized creation and dissemination of a model policy on workplace violence. It also required the Department of Labor to give businesses advice and encouragement on implementing it, and, within four years, to survey business on its reactions to the model policy.Minnick said this full process should unfold before any new mandates are considered.The Council's memo also noted that the new bill would require all workplaces, the vast majority of which are violence-free, to spend time and funds on unneeded studies, analysis and training - an investment that "diverts valuable resources from other uses.""In workplaces where employees are represented by a collective bargaining agent, human resource professionals or business owners can work closely with bargaining agents and employees to evaluate and act upon specific situations that affect their worksites," the memo said. "If few or no violence issues exist, they are able to direct their energies to more mutually beneficial issues."

Employers already generally restrict access to the workplace to only employees or to those non-employees who have a bona fide business purpose for being on the premises, the memo noted.