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Workplace Domestic Abuse Awareness

Home isn’t always the safe place it should be. Across England and Wales there are 2.3 million victims of domestic abuse each year, two thirds of whom are women, one third men, and two in ten offences recorded by the police are domestic abuse related. Two women each week and one man each month are killed in England and Wales by a current or former partner. However, these crimes are underreported, so the correct figures are likely to be much higher. Domestic abuse is a hugely destructive issue, and we have a collective responsibility to tackle it.

eve believes that all organisations should be demonstrating a commitment to creating safe and respectful working environments. This is what customers, the workforce, stakeholders and regulators demand.

Businesses must inform themselves about the impact that domestic abuse has in the workplace. 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. It is essential that employers are knowledgeable about domestic abuse; how it affects the victim but also how it affects the company too, as they are ideally placed to offer key support to those experiencing it.

Domestic abuse occurs irrespective of socio-economic status, age, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. And, whilst we tend to think that domestic abuse occurs inside intimate relationships, it also exists across the family spectrum where older teenagers and adult children can be abusive and violent.

The impact of domestic abuse across the country is huge. Figures released in the year ending March 2021 showed that police in England and Wales recorded 1,459,663 domestic abuse related incidents: an average of 2.77 incidents per minute.

A Home Office Study on the Social and Economic Costs of Domestic Abuse released in January 2019, calculated overall costs of domestic abuse at £66 billion per year. Physical and mental health costs, criminal justice, social services, housing and refuge as well as civil and legal costs form a big part of this figure, with £14 billion of this as a direct cost to lost output.

In Northamptonshire, a consultation conducted by Red Quadrant found that:

  • Economic and social costs of domestic abuse for the county are estimated to be £1,081m per year.
  • Average costs per victim per year are £37k, of which 88% fall to Charities and other voluntary sector organisations.
  • Fifty domestic crimes and incidents were reported to the Police in Northamptonshire daily during 2020-21.
  • 7% of households that find themselves homeless, do so because of domestic abuse

Statistics from the 16 Days of Action Campaign show that:

  • 75% of people who endure domestic abuse are targeted at work
  • One-fifth of employed women take time off work because of domestic abuse
  • 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of abuse
  • 56% of those living with abuse are frequently late for work
  • 58% miss at least 3 days work per month due to abuse
  • 33% of all domestic violence homicides happen on workplace grounds
  • the potential loss of earnings per woman in the UK as a result of abuse having negative impacts on career progression, is estimated to be £5,800.

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 company too. Often those who are experiencing abuse will face disciplinary action, or in extreme circumstances lose their job because of their behaviour, deterioration in the standard of their work, or poor time keeping, causing vacancies that other staff are required to cover and increased recruitment, training and HR costs.

One in three women will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime and in research commissioned by Vodafone and conducted by Opinium Research, 1 in 2 victims said their work colleagues were affected by the abuse and their experiences. Therefore, it is highly likely that all workplaces have staff that have experienced or are experiencing domestic abuse, as well as those who are perpetrators.

Embedding a culture of understanding, creating a non-judgemental space for employees, a commitment to ongoing training and an understanding of the risk factors that surround domestic abuse are the four key fundamental areas which we educate companies about.

Over half of victims do not disclose abuse at work because of shame or feeling that it was inappropriate to mention but over 65% of those same victims said they felt safer at work than at home.

The cycle of abuse means that there are very few safe opportunities to reach a victim of domestic abuse and eve believes that the workplace is a key place to achieve this safely.

Under health and safety law, employers have a responsibility to ensure that the health and well-being of employees is considered and efficiently dealt with. 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% of organisations have a specific policy or guidelines on the issue of domestic abuse and 86% of HR leads agree that employers have a duty of care to provide support to employees.

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. It is so important employees feel they are able to ask for and access support at work.

eve recommends that 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.

eve has 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.

This not only displays good corporate social responsibility, which sits well within your Wellbeing Strategy, it also makes good business sense.

eve’s aim is to support people in the business community to understand domestic abuse, see the signs and effects it has and to be able to support those impacted by it. Your employees can be affected by domestic abuse at any time. It can affect their work performance and frequently leads to time off work.

eve is here to support you develop a business case for producing a Domestic Abuse Policy, as well as designing and implementing the policy.

We can help in various ways including:

  • Developing a bespoke support package based on the needs of your business
  • Providing awareness sessions to better equip your business to support those affected by domestic abuse
  • Providing resources for your employees to have access to relevant support agencies both locally and nationally
  • Advising you on policy and procedure to support your employees
  • Being available for you to contact us for confidential support, information, or signposting
  • Any businesses that take part in the 40 Companies Campaign will receive a free webinar on domestic abuse awareness.

To mark its 40th anniversary, eve wants to find 40 businesses which will raise funds for it this year and 40 individuals who would be willing to become volunteers to help it deliver its own exciting fundraising activities.

For more information or to discuss your organisation’s needs, please contact our Business Manager, Danusia Huh, by emailing DanusiaH@eve.org.uk or calling 01604 230588. http://www.eveda.org.uk

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