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For many victims of domestic abuse, work is a place of respite. However the covid-19 lockdowns have meant victims have had to work from home, or those on furlough have had to stay at home with the abuser. Those working from home see reduced communication with their colleagues and less opportunity to ask for help.

The Government have told employers they have a duty to support staff who suffer domestic abuse on the basis that victims colleagues and their managers are often the only people outside of their household that they speak to.

In December, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) issued guidance to help employers manage and support employees experiencing domestic abuse. Read our employment team update here.

Some of the actions that firms can be doing to help include:

  • Ensuring staff can spot signs of a colleague facing domestic abuse
  • Ensuring that staff are aware that they are there to help
  • Making sure any staff that are facing abuse are signposted to the appropriate body to assist them and they are spoken to sympathetically and appropriately
  • Offering practical support, such as the space/time to make private phone calls

Signs that employers and colleagues should look out for include becoming more withdrawn than usual, being quiet, sudden drops in their performance, mentions of controlling or coercive behaviour and sudden financial struggles. Those that are not working from home can also look for physical signs of abuse, such as bruising.

Firms already taking action include Vodafone, which offers specialist training to HR and line managers and support for victims including counselling and additional paid leave.

In November 2019, 43% of those surveyed by ‘Surviving Economic Abuse’ showed an abuser had interfered with their ability to work or study from home throughout the covid 19 pandemic. Examples of such behaviour includes hiding phones or computers, removing Wi-Fi connection and contacting their employer to say they are in breach of lockdown rules in an attempt for the victim to lose their job.

If you or someone you know are experiencing abuse, please contact Ramsdens Solicitors. We work closely with domestic abuse services and can provide help and assistance for your safety and security. In an emergency, please always call 999.

Other helpline resources include the 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline which you can call on 0808 2000 247 or the Men’s advice line on 0808 801 032.

If you would like to speak with a member of our Family team in confidence, please call 08000 147720 or send us an email to book a free information session via telephone.