Domestic abuse can destroy lives, leaving physical and emotional scars. Those experiencing domestic abuse can find themselves isolated from friends and family and lose their independence. It can take many forms, not just physical abuse. It can also include, but is not limited to, financial, emotional and psychological abuse, as well as coercive control. 

Domestic abuse has an impact at work. Domestic abuse can negatively affect those abused as well as their workplace colleagues. However, importantly, the workplace can often be one of the few places that a person experiencing abuse can be separate from their abuser and experience some independence. This means that work can be the place where people can ask for and access support, and feel safe to speak about their experience. 

It’s essential that employers are knowledgeable about domestic abuse as they are ideally placed to offer key support. The aim of this guidance is to encourage more employers to take an active supporting role. 

Why act now on domestic abuse?

Why is domestic abuse a workplace issue?

Developing an effective framework around domestic abuse support

Here we suggest a framework of support consisting of four key steps. Under each step of the framework we propose some actions employers can take to manage domestic abuse in the workplace, with benefits for both employees and employers. In many cases the support needed is about being aware, offering flexibility and signposting to the organisations that provide specialist support. Large budgets aren’t required, so even with limited resources there are steps that small business owners can take to support their staff.

The role of HR, people managers and employees

It’s important to outline people’s different roles and responsibilities in relation to supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse. This will mean that everyone is clear on how they can provide support. 

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 introduced domestic violence leave and employees may take this leave to seek medical attention, psychological or other professional counselling, legal assistance, or any other relevant services they may require.The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 introduced domestic violence leave and employees may take this leave to seek medical attention, psychological or other professional counselling, legal assistance, or any other relevant services they may require.

What should a domestic abuse policy contain?

Below are key areas that can be included within a domestic abuse workplace policy. It is important that all organisations develop their own workplace policy to reflect the needs of their employees.

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