Employer Guide: providing information, training and support 30.01.08
Awareness raising and prevention
When employers are proactive in responding to domestic violence by raising awareness of the issue, creating a safe working environment and publicising the company’s response to domestic violence, employees feel more able to name their own or their colleague’s problems as domestic violence.
It's also important that any workplace policy on domestic violence should be clearly publicised. It should stress confidentiality and the importance of safety, and that a person will be listened to, believed and not be judged about their circumstances. It's important to remember that there is no excuse for domestic violence, often people blame the victim. Especially perpetrators who often blame the victim by saying things like ‘ she was nagging me’ but there is no excuse – the perpetrator is always responsible for the behaviours.
Be alert to the possibility of domestic violence
Managers may be the first to become aware that an employee is experiencing domestic violence (see Julie's story) because they have the role of monitoring and investigating sickness, attendance and work performance. It is then possible to offer support. It's also important to ensure that employees can inform someone other than their line-manager in the first instance since people often find it difficult to tell anyone.
An integrated approach
For effectiveness, domestic violence policies must also link to other related workplace policies, for example supervision and performance monitoring, confidentiality, flexible working hours, redeployment, health and safety, risk assessments, discrimination and harassment, disciplinary and grievance.
The policy needs to be effectively implemented and monitored both for impact on employees and on the organisational behaviour and development.
Training is a key process in implementing a domestic violence policy.
It's important managers have the skills to safely and effectively address workplace domestic violence issues. In particular, managers and Human Resources need to know what their roles and responsibilities are for identifying, reporting and dealing with a suspected victim or perpetrator of abuse.
It would be wrong and may be dangerous to raise awareness of domestic violence and raise expectations that help is available and then not be able to respond properly. This could create a worse situation for employees, the managers and the business.
Training should include:
- Understanding domestic violence and safety issues
- How to respond to victims and perpetrators
- How to refer for support (health, housing, legal, children etc)
- Keeping appropriate records for the company and the staff
- Women’s Aid provides a range of training packages that meet the needs of different businesses.