26 / 3 / 2014 3.25pm
The NHS is committed to becoming an employer of excellence. Within the field of staff health and welfare this certainly entails recognising the problems of staff suffering domestic abuse. It also makes sound business sense as an employer to take steps to reduce the human and financial costs to the organisation of domestic abuse.
Domestic abuse policy
As a starting point, trusts should consider a written workplace domestic abuse policy to promote the safety, health, well-being and productivity of all employees.
Workplace policies that acknowledge the complexities and difficulties of people’s lives outside work can help send a strong message, both to employees and the wider community, that domestic abuse is not acceptable.
The success of the policy will depend upon the commitment of staff at all levels of the organisation, but particularly those at board level, and its integration into the trust culture and management practice.
Committment to protecting employees
Having decided at board level that the trust is going to implement a workplace domestic abuse policy, the next step is to develop a policy that reflects the commitment to protecting employees and assists them in dealing with the effects of domestic abuse. It is important to encourage disclosure so measures can be taken to provide support and to generate awareness among employees.
A good policy will also outline tactics for training key employees and will be supported by an effective training programme. Training should be in place before a new policy is publicised and awareness-raising begins.
The first stage of drafting a trust domestic violence policy must involve bringing together interested parties to form an implementation group. This should include representatives of the board, staff side, security, occupational health, health and safety, human resources and legal advisers.
Trusts will also want to decide what level of training is necessary for key staff and precisely who those key staff will be.
Training can be developed locally with the aid of local organisations. Once the policy is approved, training is in place and key members of staff have been identified, the policy can be launched to the workforce - preferably accompanied by a statement by the chief executive, chair or HR director.
Those members of staff identified as key to the development and roll out of the policy will, in effect, form a domestic violence response team who can assist staff or patients suffering from domestic violence.