The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) survey reveals that only under a quarter (24 per cent) of UK employees are aware of their employer having a policy on domestic abuse and the support they can access from work for this issue.

CIPD have released a report offering advice on how employers should support employees that are victims of domestic abuse.

Within this report, they detail steps including “[recognising] the problem, [responding] appropriately to disclosure, [providing] support and [referring employees] to the appropriate help”. Whilst the CIPD states that it is not employer’s place to solve the issue, they should point their employees to the right “professional support”, including legal advice, financial advice, housing support, counselling or arranging childcare.

CIPD also emphasise the need for sustained support, especially as more people are working from home. They stress that “escape routes or time apart from an abuser may be dramatically curtailed” which means adapted support must be offered to suit these circumstances.

CIPD outline ten key recommendations including:

  • The creation of a domestic abuse policy
  • The domestic abuse policy being agreed by recognised trade unions that are linked to the organisation
  • Creating a safe and supportive work environment
  • Thinking about safety measures/precautions that must be taken
  • Treating everyone’s case individually and without judgement
  • Creating open work cultures which will break the silence around domestic abuse
  • Offering flexibility so employees can attend any necessary appointments including counselling and legal appointments
  • Outlining the different roles when it comes to supporting victims of domestic abuse (e.g. the CIPD state HR should take “central responsibility for developing a policy and procedures on domestic abuse and facilitating awareness-raising training”.

The CIPD also stated their support for the statement made UN women, a United Nations entity working for the empowerment of women, which encouraged employers to offer paid leave to victims of domestic abuse.

Caroline Waters, interim Chair of the European Convention of Human Rights (who collaborated with CIPD to produce this report, said:

Over 2 million people experienced domestic abuse in the last year alone, the majority of them women (although men can and do also experience domestic abuse). This means that the chances are someone in your workplace is currently experiencing, or will one day experience it.

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility under health and safety legislation to protect your staff, but this is the legal minimum. Having an effective domestic abuse prevention policy can also help to increase productivity and staff retention by providing a supportive work environment and building trust and confidence amongst your workforce.

Action is needed now: if you’re waiting for something to happen, you’ve waited too long already.

Farrer & Co LLP have recently released a guide to help employers protect workers affected by domestic abuse.  Maria Strauss, partner in the safeguarding practice at Farrer & Co, who led in the development of the firm’s guide, commented:

Domestic abuse is a critical issue for employers, from both a moral and commercial perspective. Tempting as it might be to assume that domestic abuse is a private matter that employers should stay out of, statistically speaking, the unfortunate reality is that most employers will either have a victim or a perpetrator of domestic abuse within their workforce, so it is crucial to have appropriate strategies in place.