The costs to employers of domestic violence can be huge, though this is often unrecognised by boards, staff and HR professionals. The results of domestic abuse often masquerade as accidents and are recorded as absence due to trips and falls at home.
Less than 35 per cent of actual domestic abuse is reported to the police. Some surveys put the proportion as low as 11 per cent (Stanko 2000; Home Office). As the largest employer in the UK, it is quite probable that, without realising it, we all know or work with someone who is a victim of domestic violence.
Across England and Wales:
· 56 per cent of abused people arrive late for work at least five times a month
· 28 per cent leave early at least five days a month
· 53 per cent miss at least three days of work a month
· 75 per cent of domestic abuse victims are targeted at work from harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced to physical assaults.
For individual organisations it makes sound business sense to take steps to reduce the cost of domestic abuse. Employers can help their staff by implementing a domestic abuse policy and ensuring there are appropriate channels for support, for example, occupational health and access to talking therapies.
Domestic violence policies can be introduced as part of wider policies relating to family friendly matters and equal opportunities, for example, offering flexible working opportunities, sick leave or paid/unpaid leave, as appropriate, so that an employee can seek protection, go to court, arrange childcare, or seek counselling.