Womens Aid reports that more than 19,000 disclosures of domestic violence against women happened in 2019.
This crisis is getting even worse, reports of domestic abuse to both Women’s Aid and the Garda have risen during the coronavirus lockdown.
First and foremost, this poses a serious threat to the personal safety of millions of people. However the impact runs further still.
Businesses are thought to be losing billions each year in lost productivity and absences related to domestic abuse.
Despite this, the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA) reports that just 5% of employers have specific policies or guidelines in place to help them tackle the problem.
These are just some of the reasons why we have collaborated with Sharon Livermore, the Domestic Abuse Alliance (DA) and EIDA on a new domestic abuse policy and training for employers, so that they can be confident in supporting survivors of domestic abuse in the workplace.
Sharon’s story shows an urgent need for better support
Sharon Livermore, a businesswoman from Cambridge, was required to use five days of her annual leave to attend a court case concerning an abusive partner who is now incarcerated.
Sharon says that her employer hadn’t realised the extent of her experience, or known how best to support her whilst she was living with an abuser.
As a survivor herself, Sharon recognises that more can be done to make sure that employers are well informed on how to support an employee at risk of domestic abuse.
We are proud to have been involved in the creation of Sharon’s Policy along with Sharon, the DA and EIDA, which aims to help employers spot the signs of domestic abuse and understand how best to support employees.
What is domestic abuse?
In order to spot the signs of domestic abuse, it’s vital to first understand what domestic abuse is.
Domestic abuse can affect anyone, regardless of their sex, age or race.
It consists of any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.
This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional.
The four Rs which can save lives
Sharon’s Policy focuses and elaborates on the following four Rs. It is through following these that employers can confidently take action on the issue of domestic abuse before it’s too late.
1.Recognise the problem
This can be difficult, especially when employees are working remotely. Some signs may include:
A sudden change in behaviour or performance, regular interruptions including surprise visits or gifts from a current or ex-partner, not wanting to leave work or desperate to leave on time, depression, unexplained injuries or cover ups e.g heavy clothing in summer.
This is not an exhaustive list and people can show varying signs and symptoms.
2. Respond appropriately
Domestic abuse is a sensitive subject and must be managed with care. From choosing an appropriate place and time for a private discussion, to being aware of the body language and questions you use when speaking to an employee about domestic abuse.
It is not appropriate to give advice. However you can listen, understand and explain the support you are able to provide. This may be through flexible working (if appropriate), access to a dedicated helpline or making necessary workplace adjustments.
3. Record the details
Keep a record of conversations and any workplace adjustments that you make. These records can provide important evidence if needed in a civil or criminal court.
4.Refer to appropriate help and support
If you believe an employee is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.
The following sources can provide dedicated information and support:
Further support for employers
If you need advice on developing and implementing best practice support for victims of domestic abuse in the workplace or would like to receive a free copy of Sharon’s Policy and training for your staff, please contact us.