The Government has recently called on businesses and organisations to play a more active role in tackling domestic abuse, with further guidance expected as part of the Domestic Abuse Bill, currently being debated in parliament.
The Bill is a landmark piece of legislation which aims to transform the UK’s response to domestic abuse and offer greater protections for those experiencing it.
Domestic abuse and the workplace is a topic that has been highlighted in recent updates surrounding the Bill and its importance has been magnified by increases in the number of people accessing support during the Coronavirus pandemic.
With many people working from home, it is especially important to check on the wellbeing of staff and know how to signpost those to access support, should they require it.
Domestic abuse affects around 10% of the workforce, costing the UK economy £1.9 billion every year and around 75% of people experiencing domestic abuse are targeted at work.
The impact that domestic abuse has is massive but it is still a topic that many do not feel comfortable discussing or fully understand, especially harder to spot forms such as coercive control.
Mandy Proctor, Chief Executive of Leeway, said: “It is highly likely that many employees within an organisation will have some sort of experience of domestic abuse.
“Ordinarily, people spend a lot of time at work, meaning that any changes in behaviour or work ethic can be easily noticed, which could potentially be signs that an employee is experiencing domestic abuse.
“Being able to spot the signs of domestic abuse allows employers to support their employees, as well as putting policies and procedures in place to support them whilst at work.”
The importance of domestic abuse policies for businesses was highlighted in a Government report released at the start of the year, with the majority of organisations involved describing policy as the best practice for addressing domestic abuse.
Training and education was also flagged as an area of good practice, enabling businesses to spot the signs of domestic abuse and have the confidence to signpost employees to specialist support.
There were also calls for the introduction of paid leave for survivors, allowing them to attend appointments and access support – something that is already commonplace in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Whilst some companies such as Vodafone have adopted this policy, it seems unlikely that this will be introduced in the UK and will instead be down to the discretion of businesses.
The business community has already shown a desire to tackle domestic abuse though and Leeway has seen an increase in the number of organisations enquiring about training.
The charity has adapted existing training packages to be delivered online, ensuring that many businesses and organisations are still able to access important information on supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse.
Leeway delivers regular Domestic Abuse Awareness training sessions, designed to help attendees to spot the signs of domestic abuse and provide guidance on how to signpost someone affected to access support.
The sessions can be specifically tailored to meet the needs of an organisation or with added emphasis on a certain area of interest, for instance, training specifically exploring financial abuse for banks.