Employers are being urged by a leading trade union to back a new initiative to support workers experiencing domestic abuse.

With incidents having reached what the GMB calls epidemic levels, it said that employers can lead the way in tackling this major problem. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, some two million adults experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2018 (1.3 million women, 695,000 men).

The union is asking organisations to sign up to a “Work to Stop Domestic Violence” charter which was recently launched at the House of Commons.

This asks employers to support those of its workers experiencing domestic abuse so that they will not be disadvantaged at work, and will be supported with access to services and information.

The GMB also wants all employers to train staff to be able to appropriately and confidently support them.

GMB National Equality and Inclusion Officer, Nell Andrew, said: “Workers have for far too long been told that domestic abuse was something that was a 'personal issue that shouldn't interfere with work'. Domestic abuse is a workplace issue and people experiencing it are often subject to disciplinary action or job losses, often through no fault of their own.”

Stephanie Peacock, an MP who supports the campaign, said that it builds on Labour’s policy for companies to give paid leave to those experiencing domestic abuse and to ensure that there is a safe working environment for all staff.

The GMB’s five-point charter is available at www.gmb.org.uk.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director Kate Palmer

Although domestic violence usually occurs outside of the workplace, employers should bear in mind the significant effect that this can have on the mental and physical health of their workers.

It is likely that employees who have been in this situation will not be working to their usual standard and may need to take prolonged periods of time away from work to assist in their recovery.

By ensuring that they are providing the appropriate support to assist them, and are not penalising their employees for this, employers can help to retain these members of staff and ultimately encourage their eventual return to work.

It should be remembered that employers have a legal duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their workforce. Workers should feel safe and supported while undertaking their role and mismanagement of these situations could lead to a negative impact on company reputation, overall employee morale and productivity.

Last reviewed 6 December 2018