Domestic abuse destroys lives. But what has this to do with the workplace? Sadly there has been a huge increase in domestic abuse due to lockdown and the prevalence of home working: for many the workplace was a haven away from abuse.

On 29 September the CIPD published “Managing and Supporting Workers Experiencing Domestic Abuse” which sets out guidance for employers. This advice was produced with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Employers are encouraged to break the silence about domestic abuse. Their awareness of domestic abuse and its implications and the steps they can take will literally save lives. Every workplace should have a clear and widely communicated policy to support workers, and a framework of support.

Four steps are recommended:

  1.     Recognise the problem
  2.     Respond appropriately and in a non-judgmental way
  3.     Povide support
  4.     Refer to appropriate help; eg counselling, professional organisations.

Domestic abuse victims may need time out for counselling and to implement drastic changes in their lives such as their accommodation and childcare arrangements. They may need to attend legal and finance appointments. Employers should as far as possible accommodate these needs.

But how can an employer possibly know that a worker is the victim of a domestic abuser if they are working at home? Injuries which may be apparent in the workplace might not be evident in virtual meetings. And what if the victim’s abuser is controlling the worker’s interactions with their workplace so that their virtual meetings are set on audio only? Employers should consider having weekly one-to-one virtual meetings with all workers working at home.

And what if a worker is imminent danger?  Don’t intervene, call 999.

For help or advice on employment law matters, please speak to Emma-Louise Hewitt e.hewitt@sydneymitchell.co.uk 08081668860

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