UK government includes workplaces in abuse advice

Move comes after years of campaigning and lobbying by UNISON, arguing that home and workplace cannot be easily separated in domestic abuse situations

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

UNISON’s argument that home and work cannot be neatly separated in terms of domestic abuse has been recognised in draft statutory guidance in support of the Domestic Abuse Act.

The government is now recommending that, as best practice, employers should develop policies that set out their approach to domestic abuse, which could include signposting, roles and responsibilities in their organisations, and training.

It has stated that, “this support offer may include access to paid leave, which can be helpful to victims in certain situations”.

The Home Office has launched a consultation on the draft guidance, whose key objectives, which will apply to England and Wales, are:

  • to provide clear information on what domestic abuse is, to help identify where it is happening;
  • to provide guidance and support to frontline professionals; and
  • to improve the institutional response to domestic abuse by conveying best practice and standards.

Included in the range of resources for employers to use or sign up to is UNISON’s model workplace agreement on domestic violence and abuse.

The union’s influence can also be seen in the wording for the non-molestation orders that protect a named person from specific behaviour, which can include prohibiting the abuser from:

  • using or threatening physical violence;
  • going to the victim’s home or workplace;
  • intimidating, harassing or pestering; and
  • instructing or encouraging others to do the above on their behalf.

That the workplace is included in this guidance is a result of hard work by UNISON and the women’s service group, campaigning and lobbying on the role employers can play in protecting and supporting workers experiencing domestic abuse.

The consultation closes on 14 September and the union will be pushing for the same explicit reference to the workplace in relation to domestic violence protection orders and domestic abuse protection orders.