A recent UK government report outlined plans for helping employers support domestic abuse victims.
If you’re a UK employer, providing support for domestic violence victims is not only the right thing to do morally, but it can also benefit your business by reducing lost output because of time taken off work by those abused.
Why Employers Should Support Domestic Abuse Victims
As an employer, you have a duty of care toward your staff. Many domestic violence victims see the workplace as a place of safety and a respite from the abuse they are suffering at home.
You need to raise awareness of the issue in the workplace through policies and training to help spot the signs of abuse and provide the best support possible for domestic violence victims.
Worryingly, only 5% of employers have a specific domestic abuse policy.
There is a distinct lack of action taken by employers to provide support for employees facing domestic abuse, which only adds to the culture of silence around the issue. However, you can make a difference and provide practical support.
How You Can Help as an Employer
You can play an active role in providing practical help such as flexible working patterns, offering your employees time off and access to specialist services and information – including the domestic abuse department at Holland Family Law who feature in The Hug Directory
This helps to ease any worries an employee might have over potentially losing their job because of continued absences. Plus, it demonstrates that they have your full support, making them more likely to confide in you if they are being abused at home.
It is of the utmost importance that domestic abuse victims don’t feel disadvantaged in the workplace because of their situation at home. You can best support domestic abuse victims by allowing them to adjust their working hours, perform their duties at a different location and more.
Have a Strategy
To ensure that you can give domestic violence victims the best support possible, you need a strategy. This will help you fulfil your duty of care towards your staff and should include:
- A robust, internal workplace domestic abuse policy. This can be developed alongside a trade union (where applicable) and in accordance with violence against women and girls (VAWG) frameworks
- Flexible working arrangements for survivors, plus a period of leave to aid their recovery
- Staff training to enable all employees to spot the signs of abuse and to ensure that your response to a survivor is safe and appropriate. Advanced training should be provided for HR teams and line managers
Under the latest Domestic Abuse Bill, greater emphasis has been placed on supporting employers to better help victims of domestic abuse. The Bill will give survivors a legal guarantee that they have the right to support in the workplace.
Getting Your Domestic Abuse Policy Right
The new Domestic Abuse Bill will require you to have a policy in place to support victims and take responsibility for:
- Personnel training – helping all staff to identify signs of domestic abuse. Research shows that a domestic abuse victim is more likely to report it to a co-worker. Training should cover all staff – including agency workers, those on zero-hours contracts and freelancers
- Creating a support network –train specific individuals in the workplace to act as confidants to support domestic abuse victims. This can be a team of trusted personnel that includes a line manager, a co-worker and a HR representative
- Have a safety plan – you can create individualised, personal workplace safety plans to tackle cases of domestic abuse facing employees and share them on a ‘need to know’ basis