The employer's perspective


27 / 4 / 2016 Midnight

It is to the advantage of every employer to engage with the campaign against domestic violence, not only for the benefits it brings to the individual, but also for:
  • the organisation
  • colleagues
  • the increases in productivity
  • savings on sickness absence
  • the impact on patient care.

NHS Employers and the Department of Health have joined the Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence (CAADV) to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence among the 1.3 million staff in the NHS and by doing so, to help reduce current levels of violence and costs.

These aims can only be achieved in partnership with senior managers, in the field, who are prepared to add this issue to their agenda and to communicate the message to their staff.

What employers can do

It is essential that managers provide a supportive, non-judgemental, non-threatening approach to victims.

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.

At all times it is essential that the employee's privacy is respected even if they continue to remain within the abusive relationship. It is essential to maintain the relationship as manager and offer support and guidance on help available. The manager's role is not to judge or act as counsellor.

Find out some of the potential signs to look out for in your staff in our staff as victims webpage.

For individual organisations it makes sound business sense to take steps to reduce the human and the financial cost of domestic abuse. This can be done by creating and implementing a trust domestic abuse policy.

Case study

The following information is a summary of actual events at a London NHS foundation trust.

  • A senior specialist nurse approached her line manager for information on domestic violence, saying 'I have a friend' that needs information.
  • The nurse's line manager was trained and knew where to signpost staff for appropriate advice, support and safety planning.
  • The line manager emphasised the need for safety planning and, during discussion, the staff member disclosed that she was the one affected by domestic violence.
  • The trust had a domestic violence policy in place, which allowed for special leave and other appropriate provisions.
  • A number of factors made this a 'higher risk' case, including threats of harm, pregnancy and physical violence.
  • The line manager allowed the staff member special leave, time off for court and altered shifts for safety.
  • The outcome is that this senior specialist nurse and child remained safe, as did co-workers. A talented member of staff was retained and remains working in the trust.

Other guidance

UNISON has carried out a lot of work in this field and in 1999 launched the 'Raise the roof on domestic violence’ campaign. Further guidance and copies of the campaign literature can be obtained from your UNISON regional office.

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