Motion on Domestic Abuse

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2023 National Women's Conference
10 October 2022
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that:

Domestic abuse impacts on women in their workplace as well as their home. There is no timeline to abuse or location preference, this can happen anytime of the day at any place.

Pre-pandemic the workplace was a key place and provided safety away from their perpetrator. Women have become even more vulnerable and isolated from help while having to work from home during the pandemic.

As more and more of our members work from home it is vital that we look at and find new ways and a new approach to support our members from domestic abuse. Also play an active part in reminding our employers that they have a duty of care and legal responsibility to protect their employees under health and safety law.

Even though our members are working in their home environment we need to remind employers of their responsibilities to ensure our members are safe and that they need to do everything to safeguard our members, their employees. It’s a different location to their usual workplace but it’s still the responsibility of the organisation to keep all employees safe and well.

We are the U.K.’s largest public service trade union, with around 1 million women members. During the Pandemic there was a marked increase in traffic to Unison’s learning pages by reps searching specifically for resources

and materials help address domestic abuse. This evidence is showing that our reps are dealing with more cases of domestic abuse and need training and support more and more.

Some visitors to our website accessing this information would also have been members looking for help for themselves on a site they can readily hide or explain rather that contacting an abuse helpline or organisation.

Conference further recognises that working women, especially the low paid, are prevented from being able to flee to a place of safety by having to fund their own place in a refuge. They just don’t see this as an option due to financial problems and feel forced to stay with their perpetrator and feel trapped from safety.

Our union needs to focus on having clear ways to help all our members to safety, with real focus on the lower paid who are most vulnerable victims and re-assure our members that there is a way and we can guide and support them to keep them safe.

Our members need access to a clear way they can gain help and support and understand how we can help them with resources to get help, empower them to remove themselves to a place of safety without the worry of how it’s possible to do so. Clear resource support and how they can access this is vital to protect our members.

We call on the National Women’s Committee to:

· Work with LAOS to provide training for all UNISON stewards on domestic violence

· Carry out a survey of all UNISON members asking two simple questions: (i) how do you identify? and (ii) Have you ever experienced domestic violence?

· Ask all UNISON branches to provide support for women having to flee without preparation, including photocopying essential documents such as birth certificates, passports and any rent/mortgage agreements and emergency packs including basic toiletries.

· Support the TUC’s campaign encouraging all employers to develop and implement workplace domestic abuse policies; provide mandatory training for all employees; and offer victims 10 days’ paid leave and a Day 1 right to flexible working.

· To support the TUC’s call for wider reforms of Universal Credit; funding for domestic abuse support services; extending the rail to refuge beyond the Pandemic.