Find out how you can help an employee in your organisation who is experiencing domestic abuse or sexual violence.
Employers owe a duty of care to employees and have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and effective work environment. Preventing and tackling domestic abuse is an integral part.
Men, women and children all experience domestic abuse, and can also all be perpetrators of abuse. It takes place at all levels of society, regardless of social class, race, religion, sexuality or disability. Individuals may experience abuse or be affected by it long after they have left their partner.
Signs of domestic abuse and sexual violence in the workplace
The symptoms of domestic abuse and sexual violence can be present when employees are in work. Domestic abuse and sexual violence can affect productivity and you may notice:
- a change in the person’s working patterns: for example, frequent absence, lateness or needing to leave work early
- an obsession with leaving work on time
- reduced quality and quantity of work: missing deadlines, a drop in usual performance standards
- a change in the use of the phone/email: for example, a large number of personal calls/texts, avoiding calls or a strong reaction to calls/texts/emails
- an increased number of hours spent at work for no reason
- frequent visits to work by the employee’s partner, which may indicate coercive control.
Domestic abuse and sexual violence can cause changes in behaviour, for example, becoming very quiet, anxious, frightened, tearful, aggressive, distracted, or depressed.
Childcare is often split between parents and if the employee has children, they may have an increased concern for their child’s safety and not want to leave the child in the abuser's care.
Implementing an effective workplace policy/guidance could improve staff wellbeing and may help to retain skilled and experienced staff, and enhance your reputation as a responsible employer.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission provides guidance on workplace policies around domestic abuse, including the business case for having a policy.
If feasible, appoint a senior HR lead who can help lead the corporate conversation and will be trusted by employees to deal with their concerns sensitively and in confidence. HR can provide leadership and support for staff in the context of organisational policies and guidelines.
The National Training Framework can provide training on:
- basic awareness of what violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is
- how to recognise domestic abuse and sexual violence
- help available to victims
- communicating sensitively to victims.
Domestic abuse or violence is a crime and should be reported to the police. The police take domestic violence seriously and will be able to help and protect victims.
It is for your employee or colleague to decide whether to report what has happened to them to the police. However if they are under 18 or if you believe children are at risk, you should seek advice from the police or social services immediately.
For advice and support speak to Live Fear Free or any of the other organisations available in Wales.