Work and Wellbeing · 16 July 2018

New toolkit released to help employers spot the signs of domestic violence

Domestic violence costs employers nearly £2m every year

Business in the Community and Public Health England (PHE) have published a domestic abuse toolkit that will help guide employers on how they can support suffering workers.

Domestic abuse costs businesses £1.9bn every year due to time off work, lost wages, sick pay and a drop in productivity. At an alarming rate of one in four women and one in six men suffering from domestic abuse in their lifetime, the costs for businesses are high.

The toolkit will help business owners spot the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse.

The toolkit gives key actions for employers:

  1. Acknowledge

Use this toolkit to help understand the issues, and acknowledge every employer’s responsibility to address domestic abuse. Enable colleagues to openly discuss this topic, and provide a supportive workplace.

  1. Respond

Review your policies and processes to ensure you are providing a supportive workplace and can respond to disclosure.

  1. Refer

Provide access to organisations who can help employees affected by the issue.

Commenting on this, secretary of state for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, Victoria Atkins, said: “Employers have a crucial role to play in helping staff who are victims of domestic abuse. That is why this toolkit is so valuable, as it provides employers with simple steps they can take to raise awareness and support their colleagues.

“Through initiatives like this as well as through government action including the Domestic Abuse Bill, we can transform society’s response and properly tackle these awful crimes.”

Just under two million people experienced domestic abuse within the last year alone. These figures were estimated to increase during the World Cup.

The NHS predicted that win or lose domestic violence would rise considerably.


Employers can be in a pivotal position in regards to the wellbeing of their staff, considering a third of a working adult’s life is spent in work. For employers, it is vital to create a supportive workplace culture which encourages breaking the silence around this topic.

Rosanna O’Connor, PHE’s director for domestic abuse, added: “Domestic violence won’t go away by itself – it needs everyone to help break the cycle of violence in our homes, workplaces and communities.

“Fear of stigma and isolation stops people who experience domestic abuse from seeking help. This toolkit supports employers to help keep staff safe from abuse at work and create a working environment that makes it easy for people to take the first step and to talk about their experience.”

The government has said to have made progress in handling domestic abuse and violence across the public sector, with draft legislation due to be debated during autumn this year to address prevention through to rehabilitation.

This toolkit, developed in consultation with employers, will help them spot the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse, which include:

  • Frequent absence, lateness or needing to leave work early
  • Reduced quality and quantity of work or missing deadlines
  • Changes in the way an employee communicates – a large number of personal calls or texts or a strong reaction to personal calls
  • Physical signs and symptoms such as unexplained or frequent bruises or other injuries

Business in the community wellbeing director, Louise Aston, commented: “Domestic abuse is in the foothills. Although it’s gaining visibility with the government’s new Domestic Abuse Bill, it doesn’t feature as a topic for many employers yet. There was an average of less than one disclosure to employers over the previous 12 months, which suggests that employees don’t feel supported to raise the issue.

“There are parallels with where we were with mental health a decade ago, and mental health in terms of stigma and shame. I hope that this toolkit will fuel debate that domestic abuse touches all employers and that they have a duty of care and a legal responsibility ensure that the workplace is a safe and supportive to disclose.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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