Law Firm Urges Businesses to Act on Domestic Violence Ahead of Festive Season


With Christmas fast-approaching, a time that sees an annual hike in domestic abuse, a family lawyer is calling on businesses to step up and urgently implement domestic violence policy initiatives.

Domestic violence awareness is crucial at ths time of year
12 months down the line from the implementation of its own domestic violence policy, Emma Pearmaine, head of Family Law at Simpson Millar and a Trustee of the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV), says that a robust domestic violence policy benefits both employees and company productivity. In fact, since implementing its own policy, Simpson Millar has handled several disclosures and thereby been able to support the individuals concerned.

“A safe, secure workplace is a must, and part of that security comes from ensuring that anyone experiencing domestic abuse at home knows their workplace is an environment where confidential help and support is at hand. That support must be entirely non-judgemental and should never adversely affect someone’s career advancement,” says Emma.

Emma added: “CAADV is a charity launched by Baroness Scotland to help employers protect their employees through a number of cost-neutral measures. These measures are part of a long-term plan to create positive change.”

To raise awareness of the issue, and the support that is available, Simpson Millar has produced a series of eye-catching posters – each featuring the tagline ‘Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Help is closer than you think. The message from the firm is an unequivocal commitment to their wellbeing.

You can view the first Domestic Violence poster here, the second poster here and the third poster here.

And well as posters, email campaigns alerts remind everyone that the domestic policy is in place and that it there for them to access.

Rachel Windle from Simpson Millar’s HR department is also an Ambassador for CAADV. It has been her responsibility to oversee the implementation of the firm’s own domestic violence policies, and to make sure they are known by everyone.

“Our aim is to empower victims of domestic violence so they see themselves as survivors. At the same time the posters alert friends and colleagues to the sorts of behaviours that are most often associated with domestic abuse. It helps both victims and co-workers to make the link,” says Rachel.

“We make it clear that, as a business, we will do all we can to help, and we also provide the number of the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, and signpost staff to a variety of organisations who can provide support and make a difference. Showing that we are aware of the issue and demonstrating, in a pragmatic way, that we care and are here to listen and provide practical support is sometimes all it takes to give somebody the courage to take that first step and ask for help.”

Simpson Millar offers additional measures of support such as flexible working hours that can facilitate counselling, screening of abusive phone calls and emails – even making sure perpetrators who turn up at the office cannot access and intimidate the person involved. “Simply arranging for someone to accompany an employee to their car after work can make all the difference,” says Rachel who is adamant that awareness of domestic violence will not become a barrier to moving up the career ladder.

“There really is no need for any employee to suffer in silence but people often worry that being seen as a victim of domestic abuse will somehow affect their chances of future promotion. Victims often feel that the Domestic Violence is their fault, and that we will think the worst of them for it – but we know it isn’t the victim’s fault and we don’t think the worst of them. The most senior and most capable of our employees can be surviving Domestic Violence, and being a survivor is no reflection on an employee’s value to the workplace and ability to do their job, and it is important that this is made clear. In fact, tacking the issue and bringing it out into the open can be so liberating for the individual concerned that they begin to really shine – boosting their performance and productivity to everyone’s benefit.”

According to Emma, businesses shouldn’t push for a quick fix though. “It’s the long term commitment which gives people the confidence take the first step.

“I passionately believe in the difference businesses can make to victims of domestic abuse – especially during the upcoming holidays when incidents of Domestic Violence increase because of the pressure of Christmas, alcohol and parties – and Simpson Millar is happy to share our information and experience in this area with anyone who wants to show that they too take domestic violence seriously.”

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