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How Employers Can Support Staff Experiencing Domestic Abuse

Ian Maull

Ian Maull

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have launched new guidance on how employers can support their staff, after research revealed that domestic abuse costs UK businesses almost £2 billion per year.

Research shows that more than 20% of employed women in the UK take time off work due to domestic abuse, with 2% going on to lose their jobs as a direct result of domestic abuse.

75% of those women experiencing domestic abuse will see it spill over into the workplace, whether through aggressive phone calls, physical assault or unannounced visits from abusive partners.

The new guidance from EHRC and CIPD is intended to educate employers on how to spot the warning signs of domestic abuse, and actions they can take to ensure their staff feel safe and supported at work. The guidance also advises employers on how to be sensitive whilst asking difficult questions and offer other sources of support, such as domestic abuse charities and helplines. Below is an example from the guidance.

Practical Tips for Businesses

Recognise the problem

1. Look for sudden changes in behaviour and/or changes in the quality of work performance for unexplained reasons despite a previously strong record
2. Look for changes in the way an employee dresses i.e. excessive clothing on hot days, changes in the amount of make-up worn

Respond

3. Believe an employee if they disclose experiencing domestic abuse – do not ask for proof
4. Reassure the employee that the organisation has an understanding of how domestic abuse may affect their work performance and the support that can be offered

Provide support

5. Divert phone calls and email messages and look to change a phone extension if an employee is receiving harassing calls
6. Agree with the employee what to tell colleagues and how they should respond if their ex/partner telephones or visits the workplace
7. Ensure the employee does not work alone or in an isolated area and check that staff have arrangements for getting safely to and from home
8. Keep a record of any incidents of abuse on the workplace, including persistent telephone calls, emails or visits to the workplace
9. Put up domestic abuse helpline posters on the back of toilet doors

Refer to the appropriate help

10. Have a list of the support services offered in your area that is easily accessible and refer employees to appropriate organisations that deal with domestic abuse.

Ben Wilmott, CIPD Head of Public Policy, said:

“The guidance makes clear that there are simple steps employers can take to respond to this sensitive issue. To a large degree this is about basic good people management involving managers listening, empathising and showing concern for employees. However it is important managers are aware of the warning signs that might suggest a member of staff may be suffering from abuse, as well as the sources of support available to victims.”

Click to view or download “Managing and Supporting Employees Experiencing Domestic Abuse”(.pdf)

Domestic abuse support in Brighton, Eastbourne, Crawley and Croydon

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse in the south east, a number of local charities and support organisations are here to help. Visit the links below:

Brighton

Rise
Safe in the City

Eastbourne

Sanctuary Scheme

Crawley

Crawley Borough Council Domestic Abuse Guidance

Croydon

London Borough of Croydon – Domestic Violence Support 

About the author

Martin Searle Solicitors

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Founded in Brighton in 2004, Martin Searle Solicitors is an award-winning law firm providing specialist legal advice and support in employment law for employers and employees, as well as expert guidance and legal advice in community care law.

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