Domestic violence victims need workplace support

DOMESTIC violence is still a workplace taboo and, despite years of campaigning and evidence highlighting the cost of domestic violence to the UK economy, most employers have failed to introduce any real support for victims, a survey has revealed.

The national survey of 1,000 people found that 29 per cent of people in North-East currently have a friend, colleague or family member who is experiencing domestic violence but only 18 per cent of employers in the region offer practical support for staff.

Now, concerns over domestic violence in the lead up to Christmas have been highlighted by a new survey carried out by Simpson Millar – a national law firm that has actively campaigned on the issue since 2012.

Its head of family services and domestic violence campaigner, Emma Pearmaine, says businesses must offer better support as a lack of help leaves one in six adults at serious risk this Christmas, as the festive season fuels a rise in domestic rows.

She said: “First up should be clear signposting of any practical help available, along with messages of support from the top of organisations. This, sadly, is still lacking across the vast majority of workplaces.

“For women aged 15-44, domestic violence is the single greatest cause of injury and illness. Typically fueled by alcohol and other seasonal pressures, we always see an influx of cases from women especially, seeking urgent help in the run-up to Christmas.

“Luckily Legal Aid is still available to those surviving domestic violence but essential help and support could and should be provided at a far earlier stage – especially by employers. I am not exaggerating when I say such action saves lives.

“Pro-active support such as offering flexible working to attend appointments with support agencies, temporary changes to working times and patterns, and procedures to ensure a safe working environment such as telephone number change or call screening are all relatively inexpensive to implement but hugely effective and valuable for victims.”

Emma Pearmaine


She added: “People generally believe that a friend or relative who was being abused at home would reach out to them. Sadly, this is very often not the case. Instead, we all need to know what domestic violence looks and sounds like so that we can identify when someone is suffering, and provide the necessary support.

“Given the amount of time most of us spend at work, there is a huge opportunity to start there.”