Domestic Violence Awareness Month – what could employers be doing?

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that in 2022, 5% of adults (6.9% of women and 3% of men) experienced domestic abuse and it is an issue with which employers are encouraged to engage as it can have a significant impact on employees’ personal and working lives.

Employers who are engaging with the issue may wish to consider these four areas:

  1. Create a supportive workplace culture - Discuss with employees the importance of fostering a safe and supportive work environment that encourages open communication and provides resources for employees experiencing domestic abuse.
  2. Training and awareness programmes - Domestic abuse may take many forms, including physical abuse, controlling or coercive behaviour and psychological, emotional or economic abuse. Educate managers and employees about domestic abuse, its warning signs and how to respond appropriately.
  3. Consider collaboration with external organisations - Businesses may wish to explore the benefits of partnering with local support services, charities or helplines to ensure that assistance is there for employees when they need it.
  4. Develop a Domestic Abuse Policy - A number of employers have now implemented policies, which include:
  • Setting out the employer's commitment to supporting staff who experience domestic abuse.
  • Enabling employees to be open about their experiences at home and being clear on record-keeping where employees do so.
  • Offering support, which might include
    • Paid time off work.
    • Temporary flexible working arrangements.
    • Safe methods of communication.
    • Access to a quiet room for confidential telephone calls.
    • Diversion of telephone calls.
    • Payment of wages to a different bank account.
    • One-off payments to help with expenses such as moving home or setting up a new bank account.
  • Signposting to external organisations.

In due course, it is possible that the UK government legislates to require employers to provide support to victims of domestic violence (as other countries have done), but in the meantime many responsible employers are taking steps now to address the issue.

If you have any questions regarding domestic violence and its employment implications, please contact Matt McBride.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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