Domestic abuse and work

Domestic abuse not only impacts on the wellbeing of the person being abused, it also affects co-workers and the financial strength and success of the companies for which they work.

One in four women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. It’s therefore highly likely all workplaces have staff that have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse, as well as those who are perpetrators.

In addition to safeguarding people in work who are experiencing domestic abuse, addressing domestic abuse as a workplace issue also has benefits for businesses themselves.

Only 5 per cent of organisations have a specific policy or guidelines on the issue of domestic abuse.

86 per cent of HR leads agree that employers have a duty of care to provide support to employees on the issue of domestic abuse.*

Research shows that a high proportion of those enduring domestic abuse are targeted at work. From harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced, to physical assaults.

On the flip side, the workplace can often be one of the few places a person experiencing abuse can be separate from their abuser. This is why it’s so important employees feel they are able to ask for and access support at work.

The impact domestic abuse has on the workplace

Financial Loss

The cost of domestic abuse to business is estimated at £1.9 billion a year due to decreased productivity, time off work, lost wages and sick pay (Source: S.Walby, The Cost of Domestic Violence 2009)

Staff Turnover

Valuable members of staff may be lost if employers do not recognise the signs of abuse. Behaviour changes could be misinterpreted leading to disciplinary action or termination of employment. Loosing a steady income could further exacerbate a difficult situation at home and reduce the survivors ability to escape an abusive relationship.

Productivity

Domestic abuse can cause employees to be distracted at work, miss work, arrive late or leave early, and increase staff turnover. 54% of employers have reported that domestic abuse caused the quality of the employee’s work to suffer, and 56% said it led to absenteeism.

Safety at Work

Employers have a duty of care. 75% of those experiencing domestic abuse are targeted at work4. For others, work is a safe haven and the only place that offers a route to safety. What’s more, it’s also often possible for perpetrators to use workplace resources – phones, email and other means – to threaten, harass or abuse their current or former partner.

Domestic abuse policy and why it’s important

In addition to safeguarding people in work who are experiencing domestic abuse, addressing domestic abuse as a workplace issue also has benefits for businesses themselves.

With this in mind it’s essential employers are knowledgeable about domestic abuse as they are ideally placed to offer key support to those experiencing it.

We recommend employers have a clear policy in place on supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse, but also an effective framework of support.

Employees need to be made aware of the policy and how to access support if they need it.

BWP support for businesses

We have a range of resources and services available to support your business in addressing domestic abuse. We can assist in developing policy, raising awareness, educating employees on knowing the signs and in developing information to assist employees who are experiencing domestic abuse.

Please visit support for businesses to find out how we can help.

*Source: ‘Domestic Violence and Abuse: Working Together to transform responses in the Workplace’, Durham University for The Vodafone Foundation, 2018