When asked the question “Is your workplace safe?”, many managers will respond with the ways in which they adhere to health and safety regulations, focussing heavily on safe premises, but very little on safeguarding mental wellbeing, and even less about supporting victims of Domestic Abuse.
At The Haven, we are encouraging local employers and employees to think about their response to Domestic Abuse and explore ways in which they can help break the silence and create even safer workplaces.
Why is domestic abuse a workplace issue?
The majority of employees affected by Domestic Abuse say that it has negatively influenced their work performance or their safety at work.
You have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the Health and Safety of all your employees.
The 3 Rs of Safeguarding Victims of Domestic Abuse
Recognising the signs
- Look out for sudden changes in behaviour or demeanour.
- A usually engaged employee may stop being communicative.
- Reduced quantity or quality of work.
- Regularly being unavailable to answer calls or attend virtual meetings with no explanation.
- Consistently refusing to turn video on for virtual meetings.
- Expressing a need to log off early or log on late.
Responding to disclosure
If an employee ever finds the courage to disclose that they are experiencing Domestic Abuse to you, please believe them, support them and signpost them to available services and the necessary authorities.
It is not your place to ask for proof. Reassure your employee that you are aware of the impact that Domestic Abuse may have on their performance and let them know what support is available.
Provide adequate support as follows:
- Maintain communication with the employee by means that are safe for the them.
- Have open, supportive conversations with employees about what arrangements to make if they feel unsafe.
- Devise a safe word to use in case of emergencies.
- Check in regularly with your employees. Make it company policy for employees to contact managers when they start and finish work.
- Retain both a work contact and an emergency contact of a family member (not the abuser).
- Ask employees to keep a mobile phone with them at all times, if possible. If not seek to obtain a work mobile phone for the employee.
- Keep up to date of specialist services and emergency numbers.
- Human Resources or Line Managers to familiarise themselves with The Silent Solution System to pass on to employees.
Referring to support
- Make sure you have a readily accessible list of support services offered in your area. You can find one below.
- Encourage the employee to contact The Haven, or the support services local to them, via their safest mode of communication.
- The Haven offers a Live Chat service that is available Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm via www.havenrefuge.org.uk.This could be a safer way to access support; if an abuser might also be in the property. Our helpline number is 08000 194 400.
Do you have a Workplace Policy?
This is a document that outlines clear workplace policies – the dos and don’ts – and procedures – the hows – on responding and managing risks in the workplace, as well as dealing with disclosures.
As part of our training and policy advice services, we support businesses and organisations with developing their policies. We also provide awareness training, as well as specific training for Workplace Champions. We would normally start with a consultation where we identify what is needed and discuss what we can do. If you do decide to proceed, we will engage with you every step of the way, ensuring that you are very much a part of the process. Completing the process would make you one of our certified Purple Employers.
What is a Workplace Champion?
A Workplace Champion will:
Be the point of contact where they work, for information relating to supporting staff who are victims of Domestic Abuse.
Raise awareness and enhance the overall understanding of Domestic Abuse at their place of work.
Ensure up-to-date and accessible information is available in relation to support services for victims.