Employment Law Update: Domestic Abuse and Your Business

Posted: 19th July 2020

Some startling statistics have recently revealed the size of the problem of domestic abuse and its link to the workplace.

  • 2 million victims of domestic abuse in the UK alone
  • One in every four victims are women and one in five men will become victims during their lifetime
  • An estimated cost of £1.9 billion in terms the combined cost of lost wages, sick pay and loss of productivity

Whilst many Employers have recognised and responded to the challenges of responding to abuse suffered by their staff, the Government is currently conducting a review of employment rights for survivors of domestic abuse whether it be sexual, psychological, or physical. That the Government is again dedicating resources to a widespread problem is in all likelihood a response to the increase in complaints during the period of ‘lockdown’.

For those Businesses without a formal Policy or Procedures dealing with the effect of Domestic Abuse on its staff, Employers and their HR Professionals will benefit from reading information produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission  published on their website her https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/domestic-abuse-workplace-policies.

It illustrates the importance of the following factors in identifying and addressing the issue in a manner benefiting the Employers Business and the Employee suffering the abuse.

  1. Identifying tell tale signs of abuse- the employee whose work performance physical appearance or behaviour has been affected for the worse.
  2. The importance of believing any disclosures made without demanding ‘proof’.
  3. The importance of providing assurance and practical support such as paying salary usually paid into a joint account into a different account, agreeing time off or flexible working requests, or ensuring individuals are not required to work alone and that CCTV systems are deployed where appropriate.
  4. Maintaining records of any malicious calls, e mails, or visits to the workplace.
  5. Providing staff with access to information about local support groups and displaying posters promoting awareness of help available to those affected.

The nature of domestic abuse is that it damages the confidence of those suffering. Confidence can and does affect performance and attendance. Problems of attendance and performance may have their origins ‘at home’ but impact on the workplace directly and indirectly with potentially serious consequences including, exposure to Tribunal Claims, Employee Grievances, loss of morale among staff and adverse publicity.

For those able and willing to contribute to the Governments consultation please see https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/support-in-the-workplace-for-victims-of-domestic-abuse-call-for-evidence

For advice on developing policies and procedures to protect your staff please contact Graham Shannon at [email protected] or call us on 0191 500 6989.

For advice from our Family Department if you are affected by Domestic Violence contact [email protected].