Domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime that affects millions of men and women around the world, and your actions as an employer can be pivotal in helping domestic abuse victims get the help they need if they are only able to speak to managers and colleagues outside of the home.
To aid your response in supporting staff who have experienced domestic abuse, we recommend all employers should be aware of and familiarise themselves with The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 and the recommendations that exist within it.
As part of your responsibility to create a safe environment for all workers, you should strive to provide resources and support for anyone currently experiencing domestic abuse or suffering the effects of past domestic abuse.
How Does The Act Help?
This statutory guidance is designed to help employers identify instances of domestic abuse and provide information on how to deliver best-practice responses in line with their duty of care to employees.
Employers can put plans in place to help protect victims of domestic abuse by training staff on how to spot the signs, and having policies or guidelines that can provide paid leave and flexible working arrangements to those who find themselves in this awful situation.
It is also recommended that employers become members of the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA), make use of Hestia’s Respond to Abuse Advice Line for more assistance in managing suspected cases of domestic abuse.
The National Domestic Abuse Helpline can also provide free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
Read on for some of the practical and proactive steps you can take to ensure that everyone feels supported in your workplace.
Providing a Safe and Supportive Workplace Environment
Companies must do their part to guarantee a secure and encouraging atmosphere for all their staff, including those who are facing domestic abuse. This includes offering a safe working environment, making sure that everyone is aware of the company’s regulations regarding domestic violence issues.
Creating a Culture of Support
Employers should create a culture of support in the workplace that encourages staff to speak up and seek help if they are experiencing domestic abuse. This may involve regular training and awareness-raising activities, as well as providing opportunities for staff to share their experiences and come forward with any issues they may be facing.
Domestic abuse should be taken seriously, and employers must ensure that their staff know what the procedure is for reporting any cases of domestic abuse or suspected domestic abuse. This could include having a confidential helpline where victims can call to report incidents or talk through their experiences with a trained professional.
Providing Information and Support
Employers have a responsibility to support their staff who may be suffering from domestic abuse by assisting them to access counselling, legal advice, and local resources for support. This could include signposting to designated safe and confidential rooms where victims can take some time to reflect, access information on specialist support services or call friends or family.
Employers must protect the confidentiality of employees facing domestic abuse. This includes only sharing personal information with those who have a legitimate need to know and safeguard their privacy at all times.
Practical Steps You Can Take As An Employer Against Domestic Abuse
There are many practical steps that employers can take to support staff who are experiencing domestic abuse including;
Training Managers and Supervisors
Employers have a responsibility to ensure that managers and supervisors are equipped with the knowledge needed to spot employees who may be victims of domestic abuse, as well as how they can appropriately provide support and refer them to necessary services. This can be done by delivering training sessions that provide them with the skill set required to navigate these delicate situations.
Creating a Domestic Abuse Policy
Employers should develop a domestic abuse policy that outlines the company’s approach to dealing with staff who are experiencing domestic abuse. This policy should include information on how to report domestic abuse, the support available to staff, and the confidentiality procedures that will be followed.
Offering Flexible Working Arrangements
Employers must be open to accommodating the needs of employees who are facing domestic abuse. This may include enabling them to work remotely, shifting their hours, and even granting leave or time off so that they can address personal matters. Such flexibility is vital for helping those who need it most in a difficult situation.
Providing Access to Counselling Services
Employers should make counselling services accessible to their employees, either through an employee assistance program or by working with a third-party provider. This is vital for staff members who may be struggling under the burden of domestic abuse and need professional support.
Referring Staff to Appropriate Services
To ensure that employees in an abusive situation receive the support they need, employers should create a list of local resources such as legal guidance and emergency housing and be prepared to direct their staff members towards appropriate assistance when necessary.
Domestic abuse comes in many forms such as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and can have tremendous impacts on victims’ physical and mental health and wellbeing. To help support their staff who are struggling as a result of abuse at home, employers must take proactive steps to ensure they’re okay.
By acting quickly and appropriately, employers can not only help protect their staff who are victims of domestic abuse but also create an environment where employees feel safe and supported. With the right policies and procedures in place, companies can ensure that no employee ever has to suffer in silence.
As you can see, there are plenty of things that employers can take to help protect and support staff who may be experiencing domestic abuse. If you would like support with managing and understanding your HR and employer responsibilities towards your workforce when it comes to supporting survivors of domestic abuse, please contact us.