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Minister Paul Scully writes an open letter to employers, urging them to take action to support victims of domestic abuse in the workplace.
The Business Minister Paul Scully has written an open letter to employers on how they can support survivors of domestic abuse.
The letter outlines several practical steps employers can take to build awareness of domestic abuse, ensuring they are noticing warning signs and helping workers access the support they need.
It follows the publication of the government’s final report from its Review into Workplace Support for Victims of Domestic Abuse and covers what the government and employers can do to try and tackle all forms of domestic abuse.
The government says it will also establish a working group including employers, representatives of domestic abuse victims and trade unions to convene regularly to establish practical solutions that employers can implement in the workplace.
The report identifies a lack of awareness of warning signs of domestic abuse by employers, stigma around talking about domestic abuse in the workplace and a lack of knowledge about specialist services which it says are preventing domestic abuse survivors getting the help they need in the workplace.
The report also found that stereotyping of the types of people who can be affected by domestic abuse is hindering support, despite clear evidence showing that it can happen to anyone, no matter their gender, age, ethnicity or economic status.
It also makes the point that being able to work is critical for survivors of domestic abuse not only from an income perspective, but to provide a sense of purpose as well as a place of safety and a place to make important social connections outside the home.
The report comes as the Government launches the Ask for ANI scheme, which operates discreetly through a victim giving a codeword, ensuring new victims of domestic abuse will be able to access much needed support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK. Meanwhile, the delayed Domestic Abuse Bill is continuing to make its passage through Parliament.
Domestic abuse has increased during the Covid pandemic with charity Refuge reporting an 80% increase in calls to their domestic abuse hotline.
In his letter to employers, Scully urges them “to look at what more your organisation can do to help survivors of domestic abuse”. He adds: “I am not asking that employers become specialists in handling domestic abuse, nor that colleagues should take on the role of healthcare workers or counsellors. What I want to do is burst the stigma associated with domestic abuse, which means we may shy away from these difficult conversations even when we suspect something is amiss. Every person in every workplace should feel comfortable raising an issue.”
It outlines some key things employers can do, including raising awareness about abuse, signposting victims to help, offering free support, being supportive and involving experts. Organisations that can help include the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse.