The government is considering how victims of domestic abuse can be better supported by their employers and is looking at options including emergency salary payments and the provision of unplanned leave.
The availability of flexible working and other needs will be looked at in a review of how organisations and the government can help tackle domestic abuse. It will also consider how victims of ‘economic abuse’ can be assisted, such as by paying wages into a different bank account at the victim’s request and making emergency salary payments to those experiencing financial hardship.
Business minister Paul Scully, who launched the review yesterday, said: “Domestic abuse may occur in the home, but its impact stretches into every aspect of survivors’ lives.
“This review aims to give employers the confidence and knowledge to support workers affected by domestic abuse. It will build the evidence base for possible future action by government and employers, to ensure that survivors are properly supported at work.”
The government estimates that one in five domestic abuse victims needs to take time off work because of the abuse they suffer.
CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said employers should help create supportive workplaces by raising awareness and providing the right policies and guidance for managers and staff.
“Far too many people have their lives destroyed by domestic abuse and there is growing evidence of increases of incidents during the lockdown and the current crisis. Domestic abuse is a societal issue, but also a workplace issue. Work should be a safe place for people where they feel they can ask for support,” he said.
“EHRC research also finds that 75% of those enduring domestic abuse are targeted at work, from harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced.”
The review aims to identify the best ways that victims can be supported by their employers, whether that is financial assistance, an outlet for reporting abuse or emotional support.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is initially seeking written evidence from employers and other stakeholders on the specific needs of abuse victims and whether these are met under current employment practices.
It will later consider best practice from employers in the UK and abroad, with a view to improving the current employment rights framework.
Dame Vera Baird QC, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales said: “Having a job and spending time away from their abusers can provide a degree of independence which can be crucially important for those suffering abuse.
“I am aware of a scheme in Northumbria where around 400 public and private employers agreed to have nominated employees champions in their staff who other employees could easily go to, which is important as some people are uncomfortable reporting directly to their manager or employer.
“I would like to like to see excellent examples such as this become the norm. And I would encourage anyone who can to contribute to this review – which will hopefully lead to positive change is work places everywhere – to do so.”