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New domestic abuse toolkit for employers

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John Bercow, launch, toolkit for employers, domestic abuseWork can sometimes be the only place someone suffering domestic violence can escape their abuser.

One in four women, and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime – ranging from coercive control to murder.

So all employers will have some people who have faced or are facing domestic abuse, either as victims, witnesses, or perpetrators.

Many employers find that domestic abuse reduces performance at work, increases absenteeism and may lead to mental illness. And in 2012, it was estimated that the overall cost of gender-based violence to both victims and society in the UK is approximately £26 billion annually. This includes an estimated cost to the economy of £3.4 billion, due to absences from work resulting from injury.

When employers demonstrate that they are aware of domestic abuse, and make staff aware of the services that are available, this can help to reduce the wall of silence about domestic abuse that prevents many from seeking help.

Noticing a member of staff is absent more than usual, is putting on their make-up differently or wearing excessive clothing for the time of year, could be indicators of domestic violence, a Speaker’s House event was told.

The event was the launch of a Domestic Abuse Toolkit devised by Public Health England and Business in the Community to help employers and companies understand the issue, recognise the signs and know how and when to act.

It works as a checklist of practical actions employers can take and support they can give if they suspect a staff member suffering from sexual or domestic abuse.

The toolkit has already been adopted by the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse – a network of more than 200 companies and public-sector organisations, which includes the House of Commons, Vodafone, Lloyds Banking Group and the BBC.

Click here to hear Elizabeth Filkin CBE, chair of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse, explains the background of the initiative and how to join in.

Many employers’ leaders are already taking action in their organisations – for example developing policies on domestic abuse, raising awareness amongst employees, training senior staff, managers and ambassadors on how to identify those who may need help, sharing best practice with other employers, offering direct help to staff or signposting them to where it can be found.

The Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse is a network of more than 170 companies and public sector organisations who have come together to exchange information about best practice, and to encourage, promote and develop action to help staff who are enduring domestic abuse, or who are perpetrators.

It works to also help those who witness it or work colleagues who know someone to support the victim. It holds network meetings once a quarter at a central London venue on topics suggested by member employers.

The Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse also has a list of documents that can be downloaded which provide some background to the issue of domestic abuse and the workplace; if you have come across any other documents that you believe would be useful additions to this e-library, please do send these to Charlotte Suttle.

Speaking at the launch of the toolkit, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said: “One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime – but less than 30 per cent of workplaces know how to respond.

“Work can sometimes be the only place someone suffering domestic violence can escape his or her abuser, which is why the Domestic Abuse toolkit is so important to help employers spot the signs.”

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