Domestic violence

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31 / 8 / 2016 Midnight

The costs to employers of domestic violence can be huge, though this is often unrecognised by boards, staff and HR professionals.
The results of domestic abuse often masquerade as accidents and are recorded as absence due to trips and falls at home.

Frequently, injuries may not even cause time off sick, because physical signs are hidden, however, the effects of the abuse may still impact the victim's role in the organisation.

In England and Wales alone domestic abuse results in:

  • 125 deaths a year
  • one in four women and one in six men suffering domestic abuse in their lifetime (Council of Europe 2002; Home Office).
Less than 35 per cent of actual domestic abuse is reported to the police. Some surveys put the proportion as low as 11 per cent (Stanko 2000; Home Office). As the largest employer in the UK, it is quite probable that, without realising it, we all know or work with someone who is a victim of domestic violence.

Across England and Wales:
  • 56 per cent of abused people arrive late for work at least five times a month
  • 28 per cent leave early at least five days a month
  • 53 per cent miss at least three days of work a month
  • 75 per cent of domestic abuse victims are targeted at work from harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced to physical assaults.
Once a person leaves an abusive partner, they are especially vulnerable at work, as it may be the only place they can be located or harmed, which is why employers should think about how they can support their staff who are victims of domestic violence.

The financial cost

Using crime figures, it is estimated that domestic abuse costs the state and employers around £1.3 billion each year. 

The cost to the NHS of repairing the physical damage to victims of domestic violence is estimated at £1.22 billion.

The cost of mental health services related to domestic violence is estimated at £176 million.

For individual organisations it makes sound business sense to take steps to reduce the cost of domestic abuse. Employers can help their staff by implementing a domestic abuse policy and ensuring there are appropriate channels for support, for example, occupational health and access to talking therapies.

Domestic violence policies can be introduced as part of wider policies relating to family friendly matters and equal opportunities, for example offering flexible working opportunities, sick leave or paid/unpaid leave, as appropriate, so that an employee can seek protection, go to court, arrange childcare, or seek counselling.

Further support

UK Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV)

NHS Employers works in support of the role of the CAADV. CAADV work to raise awareness of domestic violence among employers and staff, addressing the effects of domestic violence in the workplace and signposting to organisations that can provide help locally and nationally. They have tools and resources to help you develop your strategy for supporting staff who may be victims of domestic abuse. For more information visit the CAADV website.

Public Health England toolkit

Public Health England (PHE) developed a new toolkit for businesses. It is a step-by-step guide on how businesses can tackle domestic violence and raise awareness of an issue that impacts health, wellbeing, absence and turnover in the workplace. For some victims the workplace is the only safe place, however up to 75 per cent of domestic violence victims are also targeted at work by their abuser. For more information, see the PHE website.

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