Why domestic violence is a workplace issue
Anne Payne, co-founder of psychological health consultancy The Validium Group, on why domestic violence is a workplace issue and what directors can do to assist staff.
Domestic violence used to be considered a community issue, something that affected women sheltering in refuges and not the working population. Today, the reality is that domestic violence is such a widespread problem that an organisation employing just ten people will have at least two employees affected by the issue at some point. In total one in four women and one in six men will be subjected to domestic violence during their adult lives.
Add to that the fact that over half the victims of domestic violence will call in sick at least three times a month and it’s no wonder that the problem is estimated to cost the UK economy well over £1.9bn a year in lost wages, productivity and absence. Indeed, research shows that domestic violence is surprisingly prevalent, if hidden, at work with 75 per cent of victims subjected to threatening phone calls, emails, texts and even visits by perpetrators during the working day.
The sheer scale of the problem is such that the Department of Health has joined forces with Co-ordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse (CAADA) to launch a pledge for any organisation wanting to help and support staff facing domestic violence to sign up to. The hope is that by signing the pledge and promising to direct any victims who come forward towards appropriate support, employers can help to take away some of the stigma associated with domestic violence and provide a safe and sensitive response to those brave enough to seek help.
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