Domestic and sexual violence and abuse can have a major impact on the victim and affects their working life. In Northern Ireland, the cost of domestic abuse to services and the economy is around £931 million.
It makes sound business and economic sense for employers to have a workplace policy that supports employees experiencing domestic abuse.
Some of the key business benefits of developing a workplace policy on domestic and sexual violence and abuse include:
- Recruitment and retention - creating a team of trained and experienced staff can cost money. Having a workplace policy is a good investment for an employer to help retain staff. Promoting staff health and wellbeing can make your business attractive to potential job applicants.
- Staff morale and productivity – a policy can help create a positive working environment. If staff feel that they are supported and able to approach their employer for help this can increase their morale, loyalty and commitment.
- Disciplinary action - the effects of domestic abuse can negatively impact attendance, punctuality, work performance, health and safety and productivity. A clear policy can prevent unnecessary disciplinary action against an employee.
- Public image and reputation - employers who have a policy on domestic and sexual violence and abuse are sending a message to their staff and the wider community that they are committed to supporting employees and community investment. It shows a strong sense of corporate social responsibility.
Meet legal requirements
Developing a workplace policy can help you comply with your health and safety responsibilities. Under health and safety law, employers are obliged to:
- have a duty of care for the health and safety of their employees
- assess the risk of violence to employees
- make arrangements for employee health and safety through organisation, planning and control
- consult with employees about health and safety
- report any incidents of violence in the workplace
Public authorities also have a duty to protect individuals from human rights violations – which includes violence and abuse. They must also promote equal opportunities and good relations.
Aside from the business benefits, employers have an ethical and moral duty to protect and support employees experiencing domestic and sexual violence and abuse. For the victims, the workplace must be a place of safety, help and support.