Domestic abuse is hugely under-reported and can have a devastating impact both on victim-survivors and those close to them. It is important to consider the nature of domestic abuse, its prevalence and its impact and what employers can do in supporting victims of domestic abuse in the workplace.
What is domestic abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse can take many different forms and is not always easy to spot, but its impact on victim-survivors and those close to them can be devastating and life-changing.
Domestic abuse is not just a personal matter for people to deal with in private, but a key concern for all employers, and being able to spot where it may be occurring, handle disclosure sensitively and effectively, and take appropriate action to protect and support staff is a crucial aspect of an employer’s duty of care.
Why supporting victims of domestic abuse in the workplace is important
Domestic abuse affects both victims and their employers. As well as the emotional and physical impacts there are financial impacts too. The Home Office cost of crime report published in 2019 The economic and social costs of domestic abuse – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) concluded that the largest element of domestic abuse cost is the physical and emotional harm suffered by the victims themselves (estimated at £47 billion). The next highest cost is for lost output relating to time taken off work and reduced productivity afterwards (£14 billion).
Given that one of the largest causes for sick leave is actually domestic abuse, it is important for employers to understand the depth and breadth of issues that employees may face and create a culture of openness where it’s part of natural discourse, that they can discuss it without the fear or shame or intimidation that may be attached to it.
Vaultex UK LTD leading the way
One company which has taken significant steps in supporting victims of domestic abuse in the workplace is Vaultex UK LTD.
Vaultex is one of the UK’s largest cash processors, employing around 1,200 staff across a network of locations in England and Scotland. During lockdown, they recognised the potential impact of domestic abuse on their workforce and took steps to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees by implementing a domestic abuse protection policy.
Working in conjunction with Watson Morris Family Law, Vaultex provides access to legal advice and representation to assist employees in a situation which can present many challenges. By providing this support they hope to protect their people from harm and improve their overall wellbeing. Under the Vaultex policy, the company provides financial support for legal action at a cost of up to £1,500 to any employee wanting to take legal action against any perpetrator of domestic abuse. The employee will not be required to pay this back to the company.
Speaking about the policy, Mahdiya Malik, Vaultex’s Culture & Sustainability Manager said, “As a responsible employer Vaultex recognises its duty to support the health, safety and wellbeing of employees. Domestic abuse affects one in four women and one in six men in their lifetime, leading to, on average, two women being murdered each week and thirty men per year.
Working with Peter Morris at Watson Morris we have devised a toolkit to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the different forms that this can take and put in place a referral process so that employees get the support they need. Vaultex is an award winning employer and we are proud to support our colleagues in this way”.
How other organisations can support victims of domestic abuse in the workplace
Information is available to any business wishing to find out more about how they can support any victims of domestic abuse and devise a policy suitable for their workforce.
VinciWorks is a leading provider of online compliance training and risk management software. Together with their partners at Skill Boosters, They have created a film-based domestic abuse course for employers on how to support victims of domestic abuse in the workplace. Drawing on powerful first-hand victim-survivor experiences, the course looks at the different forms that domestic abuse can take, its prevalence and its impact, and sets out how to spot possible signs of abuse and what organisations can do to ensure they are providing appropriate help and support for employees.
Speaking about the training course, Pip Johnson, Director For Legal Services at VinciWorks said,
“Only 5% of work places have a policy of providing support to victims of domestic abuse. This is surprising when you consider that 75% of victims report that the abuse followed them to their place of work. Many victims do not speak up due to fears for their safety or being judged by family or colleagues. Many blame themselves. Victims feel low self-esteem and some may be suicidal. Some people may not recognise that they are victims of abuse and their experiences can be belittled or diminished by the abuser. The VinciWorks course is a cost-effective way to ensure employers can devise their own policy to provide appropriate help and support for their employees.”
Watson Morris and supporting victims of domestic abuse in the workplace
For further information and support please contact Peter Morris at Watson Morris Family Law LLP on
+44 (0) 3331 882965 or email@example.com
Written by Peter Morris
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