Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, is to take forward two UNISON workplace-related amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill.
UNISON is concerned about how domestic abuse affects victims in their workplace as well as in the home. Protections at work can ensure that victims are not trapped in a dangerous relationship because they are concerned about the security of their employment.
For victims of domestic abuse, work can be a lifeline to independence and survival.
The amendments suggested by UNISON and being taken forward by Ms Phillips are:
Paid domestic abuse leave
The government has a responsibility to ensure that victims of domestic abuse are given the time and space to address impacts of domestic abuse, without having to worry about being able to pay their bills.
Workers may need time off to access legal or financial advice, to arrange childcare or alternative accommodation and to seek medical advice. Victims should feel safe in the knowledge that they can work to begin to put their lives back together with their employment secure.
Without this guarantee, many women may stay in dangerous situations with their abusers because they cannot risk losing their employment.
Extend domestic abuse protection orders (DAPO) to the workplace
DAPOs restrict a domestic abuse perpetrator’s ability to harass a victim at their home. UNISON is calling for the government to extend the remit of DAPOs to include workplaces.
Without this amendment, victims can be harassed at work by abusive partners, threatening their job prospects and safety.
Currently, victims on visas with no recourse to public funds cannot access domestic abuse refuges or benefits. This leaves migrant survivors of domestic abuse trapped with violent, controlling partners.
UNISON believes that anyone experiencing domestic abuse in the UK should have state support.
The union’s national women’s officer Josie Irwin said: “Getting these amendments accepted into law would help ensure security for victims of domestic abuse in the workplace and create time and space for them to start to rebuild their lives.
“UNISON applauds Jess Phillips for recognising the role that employers and trade unions have in recognising and preventing domestic violence.”
The long-awaited bill is now in the committee stage, where MPs will listen to expert evidence from groups such as UNISON, and the wider domestic abuse sector.
A recent poll by Amnesty UK found that 72% of people think the government should do more to protect domestic abuse survivors.