Public Health England Tackling Domestic Violence In The Workplace


Both men and women are reported to have taken time off work because of domestic violence. Approximately 21% of employed women, who in the past year have experienced domestic violence, took time off work as a result of the worst incident of abuse. Men who had experienced domestic abuse took time off at a rate of 6%.

Employers told to look for signs of domestic abuse
It is for this reason that Public Health England (PHE) has issued new guidance on how employers should look out for the signs of domestic violence.

Workplaces Are Safe Places

Domestic violence and violence against women has taken a top spot on the agenda this year. To coincide with the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence which ran from 25 November to 10 December 2014, new guidelines are being published to help employers do their part.

Simpson Millar LLP and the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV) have been championing workplaces as safe havens for people who may be suffering domestic abuse and now every workplace has the chance to do the same. The average office worker spends around 8 hours a day at work. This time, for a victim of domestic abuse, may be the only time in a week that they can seek refuge from the violence. But also, many victims are actually targeted by their abuser whilst at work.

PHE wants to make it a priority for workplaces to uncover the hidden signs of domestic violence, and provide a place for disclosure and support. “Workplaces are a safe space for many people living in violence” according to Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE.

The advice on hand provided by PHE will help employers to train workers to spot the signs of abuse, support those who are victims and protect their staff as a whole. This advice is there to help victims but also perpetrators. Providing emotional support for both sides is just one approach to bringing the discussion of domestic abuse into the workplace.

Spotting Abuse

Signs that someone may be suffering domestic abuse in the workplace include:
  • Constant calling and disruptions during the work day
  • A change in work attire – wearing high neck or sleeved clothing in hot weather
  • A drop in the individual’s performance
  • Not taking any holiday days and perhaps insisting on working over-time
In light of this, employers often find that after doing training with organisations like the CAADV, employees that were sacked or quit may have been victims of abuse at home.

The CAADV have urged, “all employers to recognise both the human cost, and the ultimate cost to UK businesses, of domestic violence and take effective, simple steps to help support their employees, not only during the 16 Days but going forward.”

Simple health and safety checks to ensure a secure workplace is just one step your employer could take. A third of domestic homicides happened on workplace grounds in 2011. Incidents like this can be prevented just by making sure that the main door to the building is secure and all other exits are monitored. Hanging posters in both male and female toilets can help to raise awareness about the signs of abuse and can display vital information for those at risk.

Taking an active role in raising awareness and providing support to domestic violence victims and perpetrators not only alleviates the financial burden on employers but it also helps employers to get the most out of their workers.

Simpson Millar LLP have been working with the CAADV to do just that and now other employers with the help of PHE can do the same.

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