What can employers do to support a member of staff who may be a victim of domestic abuse?
“Employers owe a duty of care to employees and have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and effective work environment. Preventing and tackling domestic abuse is an integral part of this.”
-The Prince’s Responsible Business Network
This year’s international 16
Days of action against domestic violence campaign runs from 25th
November until 10th December 2019.
This campaign aims to raise
awareness about the reality of domestic violence and also encourages businesses
to focus on employee wellness and become better-equipped to acknowledge the
signs that an employee may be a victim of domestic abuse.
“Domestic abuse can impact on the workplace. The morale, health and self-confidence of an abused employee can be affected and this in turn can impact on their performance at work. Colleagues may also be affected by having to cover a survivor’s workload or feeling unable to help when they know there is a problem. Domestic abuse currently costs UK business over £2.7 billion a year due to lost economic output through decreased productivity...”
(End The Fear http://www.endthefear.co.uk/)
In order to help employers Public
Health England and The Prince’s Responsible Business Network have produced a
very informative and practical toolkit for employers. https://www.bitc.org.uk/toolkit/domestic-abuse-toolkit/.
Spot the signs and symptoms:
“58% of abused women miss at least three days of work a month and 56% of abused women arrive late for work at least five times”
16 Days of Action
- frequent absence, lateness or needing to leave
- reduced quality and quantity of work or
- changes in the way an employee communicates -
a large number of personal calls or texts or a strong reaction to personal
- physical signs and symptoms such as
unexplained or frequent bruises or other injuries
refer and respond to the issues by:
- Having a policy on domestic abuse
Providing a supportive workplace will
help to ensure that employers are complying with the law for workplace and
homebased employees. The policy should include guidance, a plan and checklists.
It is useful to inform employees in the staff manual and as part of the initial
introduction to the firm, a reminder via bulletins and staff update meetings
and using intranet to signpost employees to a wide range of support groups. It
also helps both
victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse see that support is available.
- Appoint employees to be the point of contact and train them to handle domestic abuse issues
People appointed should have the
respect, sympathy and be approachable. Training and the tools to help the
victim should be provided.
Decide on the routes available to help the victim,
in particular, specialist services, where appropriate with up to date contact
- Safe environment
If an employee discloses they may be at
risk of harm suitable workplace adjustments will need to be put in place.
- Record and treat information as strictly confidential
Keep a record of incidents and any involvement but
ensure it is held outside of official employee records and held securely.
- Be prepared
Before the policy is launched ensure all procedures
are in place to give confidence to the victim and those tasked to help.
- Moving forward
The government launched a
major consultation on domestic abuse in 2018 with a view to a Domestic Violence
and Abuse Act, consolidating the current legislation and introducing new
measures to help people affected by domestic abuse. In the meantime employers
have a responsibility under the current legislation. It will be interesting to
see if the new government resurrect the consultation.
Anyone affected by domestic abuse, including victims, concerned friends or Employers seeking further information, can contact the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice and signposting – telephone: 08 088 088 088, website https://www.hertsdomesticabusehelpline.org/.