Managing and supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse
Guest Blog by Health Assured CEO and wellbeing expert David Price
Most employers strive to create a happy and positive working environment, ensuring staff remain safe and protected whilst they undertake their work duties. However, for a significant number of workers, the threat of domestic abuse in their personal lives often looms large once they return home. With this in mind, there are several measures employers can take to support domestic abuse victims within their organisation.
A domestic abuse policy can be used to great effect to outline the company’s stance on the issue. This should confirm the organisations’ commitment to supporting staff, whilst emphasising that all reported incidents will be treated in a confidential manner. The hope is that having a policy in place will give employees the confidence needed to report any instances of domestic violence, whilst also providing the framework for managers and HR personnel to act in these circumstances.
Line managers are an integral part of supporting staff and should be trained in spotting the signs of domestic abuse. Whilst bruising or unexplained injuries are often cited as tell-tale signs, managers should also take note of any significant change in mood, drop in performance levels or poor attendance which can also be indicators of domestic abuse. It is also important that they understand this issue is not exclusive to female staff, as reports suggest that 2.4million British men have suffered domestic abuse.
If an employer is informed by a member of staff that they are suffering from domestic abuse, then it is important to appreciate the sensitivity of this issue. Therefore, employers should refrain from asking the employee for proof as this can easily offend, whilst ensuring any discussions remain confidential to avoid the matter becoming the subject of workplace gossip.
When it comes to assisting the individual employers must keep their safety in mind at all times. In instances where the employee is worried about receiving abuse whilst at work employers should agree how best to react if the perpetrator attends the workplace. Most importantly employers should encourage staff to seek professional help or contact the relevant authorities to discuss the abuse. Employers should resist the temptation to make contact on behalf of their employee and instead direct them to a list of qualified organisations. In many instances suffering domestic abuse can also lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. To address this, employers may consider allowing affected staff a prolonged period of paid sick leave to aid in their recovery.
Employers must recognise that domestic abuse can pose a significant threat to the wellbeing of their workforce and the overall success of the organisation. To properly support staff employers must work to remove the stigma that so often surrounds domestic abuse and ensure managers and HR personnel are fully aware of their responsibilities.