UNISON wins workplace protection for domestic abuse victims

New domestic abuse protection orders will help to prevent abusive partners coming to victims’ workplaces

hands raised, facing palms out to stop violence, against a dark background

As the Domestic Abuse Bill moves through Parliament to become law, UNISON has won a key amendment to ensure that domestic abuse protection orders (DAPOs) will apply to the workplace.

The new protection orders are set to replace domestic violence protection orders, designed to prevent perpetrators of domestic abuse from harassing their victim.

An order will prevent perpetrators from entering the victim’s home or stop them coming within a specific distance of the home. They’re a preventive tool to keep victims safe and give them some breathing space and referral to support services without interference from the perpetrator.

Now, thanks to UNISON’s cross-party campaigning, abuse protection orders will extend their coverage to victims’ workplaces to make sure victims stay safe at work.

UNISON national officer Josie Irwin said: “Most of us spend the majority of our time at work. We are delighted the government has agreed UNISON’s amendment to the bill to extend protection orders to the workplace.

“It means more victims can be protected from harassment and threats at work. It’s important recognition that home and work cannot always be neatly separated.”

Victims of domestic abuse may be at increased risk of harm in their workplace, especially if they have left a controlling partner and their workplace is the only place they can be located. In 2010, Jane Clough was murdered by her former partner as she arrived for her night shift at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

UNISON has argued for years that domestic abuse is a workplace issue. The amendment to cover workplaces was spearheaded by shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, Jess Phillips, and won the support of former victims’ commissioner Baroness Newlove.

Domestic abuse protection orders will also cover other places where a victim may regularly be found, such as their place of worship or any children’s school.

UNISON believes there is so much that employers can do, together with trade unions, to spot signs of domestic abuse and support their staff. This may be by signposting them to services that can help,or being flexible about time off to sort out a court case or finances.

Read UNISON’s model domestic abuse policy here