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How to Support Victims of Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is an awful crime that can deeply affect those involved.  Usually domestic abuse occurs in the home, the impact of the abuse affects a victim’s life in every aspect, including their work. Recent research shows that one in five people have had to take time off work due to domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse isn’t just violence, it is defined as incidents of any controlling, coercive, threatening, violent or degrading behaviour. The majority of cases of domestic abuse occur from a partner, ex-partner or family member. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, both women and men can be victims of domestic abuse.

The Government recently produced a report of how employers can support victims of domestic abuse.

Employees who are victims of abuse should be supported; an employee’s place of work can be their lifeline, as a workplace can be a place to seek help and support away from their abuser.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, this means employers should ensure they take all steps practicable to ensure the health safety and welfare of their employees. Where domestic abuse is brought the attention of an employer, employers have an ethical and moral reason to act and help protect the employee.

Recognising the signs

Signs an employee maybe a victim of domestic abuse can include:

  • Decreased productivity, missing deadlines or a drop-in work standard
  • Increased absence occurrences, or frequent lateness or needing to leave work early
  • Changes in attitude or behaviour, becoming quiet and withdrawn from colleagues
  • Injuries that are unexplained such as bruising or broken bones
  • Large number of personal calls, avoiding phone calls
  • Increase in the time the employee spends at work
  • Worried about children they may have
  • Change in the way they dress, for example on warmer days, not having skin on show to hide bruises

Offering Support for employees

  • Implement a domestic abuse policy
  • Download https://www.bitc.org.uk/toolkit/domestic-abuse-toolkit/
  • Encourage employees to talk about any issues they may be experiencing, this can be with their line manager, HR representative or a colleague they trust.
  • Promote Employee Assist Programmes as these can provide guidance and support
  • Provide training for line managers and HR professionals to recognise the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse and how to deal with them.
  • Connect with domestic abuse victims support services and signpost employees there for support and legal help
  • Communicate to employees at all employee briefings or in company newsletters, about domestic abuse and how to recognise the signs, so employees know they can talk to their manager or HR person in confidence and get help.
  • Allow employees to make calls from work
  • Allow employees flexibility with working hours, they may need to deal with the consequences, or to attend appointments. You may want to allow time off for them to do this.

How to react

If an employee confides in their manager or HR department that they are a victim of domestic abuse it is vital that the person they are confiding in:

  • Is sensitive and listens to what the employee tells them
  • Prioritises the employee’s safety over any work commitments
  • Ensures they are talking in a private space and cannot be overheard
  • Does not ask for physical proof
  • If the employee or colleagues could be in immediate danger they must call 999.

Any reports of abuse should be treated in confidence

Domestic Abuse and Covid19

The National Domestic Abuse hotline reported an increase in calls by 25% since the national lockdown in March 2020.

Employers should ensure they are keeping in touch with their employees as much as possible while they are working at home, or have been on furlough leave. Domestic abusers often isolate their victims away from their family and friends, and while someone is working from home or is on furlough leave, being isolated increases dramatically.

It is important for employee’s mental health and welfare that they have someone to keep in touch with on a regular basis.

Domestic Abuse Services

The 24 Hour National Domestic Abuse Hotline – 0808 2000 247

Women’s Aid – www.womensaid.org.uk

Survivors UK – www.survivorsuk.org

Galop – help@galop.org.uk

Men’s advice line – 0808 801 0327

999 – if you are unable to speak, dial 999 and then press 55, this will take you through to the police where they will assist you without you having to speak.

If you would like further guidance on the above please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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