Should your company have a policy regarding domestic abuse?
You might think it’s an unnecessary question. It’s domestic abuse, so it has nothing to do with work. Right?
But you couldn’t be more wrong.
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that an estimated 1.3 million women in England and Wales experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2018.
The ONS also found that 92% of defendants in domestic-abuse related prosecutions were men and 66% of victims were female, though in 21% of prosecutions the sex of the victim was not recorded.
Tragically, two women are killed by their partner or ex-partner every week in England and Wales on average and police receive over 100 calls every hour about domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse is not just limited to outright violence. It includes coercive control, psychological and/or emotional abuse, digital and online abuse, stalking and harassment and financial exploitation.
So the scale of the problem is clear. But what does it have to do with work?
Well, 75% of those enduring domestic abuse are targeted at work, with abuse including harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced.
It has a devastating impact on the morale and productivity of those abused, often leads to an increase in sick leave and subsequent payments and can leave to employees leaving unexpectedly.
And it’s also the case some perpetrators use workplace resources to help commit their crimes.
So a workplace policy should be essential.
It should set out that the company has a clear understanding of domestic abuse, is committed to protecting and supporting staff, will train managers and employees appropriately, respond supportively to those experiencing abuse and work to minimise their risk and will call in specialist help when it is needed.
The figures also suggest that abuse increased during the first lockdown – when many people were working from home.
Increases in demand for domestic abuse support showed a 12% increase in the number of domestic abuse cases handled by Victim Support in the week lockdown restrictions were eased, compared to the previous week - reflecting the difficulties victims faced in safely seeking support during the lockdown.
Remember, even though staff might be based at home you retain a duty of care for them whilst they are working.
Here at HR Solutions Shropshire we have had training in this area and are happy to help your company to help others. This is far too big a problem to turn our backs on. It’s time to act.