Domestic Abuse Awareness Week: Impact on the workplace and the supporting role of employers

March 4, 2024

Domestic abuse is an issue that not only affects individuals within their homes but also extends its reach into the workplace, ultimately impacting productivity, employee well-being, and organisational culture. As such, employers have a crucial role to play in combating this problem and creating a supportive environment for employees who may be suffering from abuse and underperforming as a consequence.

To recognise NO MORE Week 2024 – the annual campaign dedicated to raising awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence – this blog post aims to help employers and managers better understand the various forms in which the impact of domestic abuse in the workplace can take, and what they can do to support victims.

Table of Contents

Understanding the impact of domestic abuse in the workplace

Contrary to the idea that domestic abuse happens behind closed doors, it’s not uncommon for the abuse to creep from an individual’s home life into their work life.
Abuse can have a direct, physical impact at work, with over one in ten people who experience domestic abuse reporting that the abuse continues in the workplace, and in the majority of instances (81%) this is through harassing or abusive emails or phone calls.

However, it can also have a less obvious impact – which as an employer is usually harder to spot. Victims of domestic abuse often struggle to maintain a sense of normality at work while grappling with the emotional and physical toll of their situation. They may have trouble concentrating, be constantly on edge, or frequently call in sick due to injuries or related health issues.

In fact, over half of those experiencing domestic abuse have had to take time off work as a result, and nearly nine out of 10 employees stated that it impacted their work performance. This can then go on to disrupt team dynamics and overall morale as a result.

How employers can support team members dealing with domestic abuse

The legal standpoint

Employers have a general duty of care to their employees. This means that they must abide by relevant health and safety and employment laws, in addition to the common law duty of care. As part of this, organisations should consider the impact of domestic abuse on employees.

Offering practical support

Offering access to professional resources, such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or counselling services, provides employees experiencing domestic abuse a channel to feel safe in discussing their situation or asking for advice, knowing that all communication will remain confidential.

People managers can also consider offering flexible working arrangements or unpaid leave to accommodate employees needing time for court hearings, medical appointments, or relocation.

In addition, employers should think about the risks of forcing their team to work from home without a serious reason, as for many victims, being in the workplace is their only escape from their abuser.

Providing education and training

Spotting the signs of abuse is a crucial step in tackling the problem: train employees and managers to recognise the different signs of domestic abuse, such as unexplained injuries, changes in behaviour, or frequent absences.

Providing training on how to respond empathetically to disclosures of abuse and emphasising the importance of maintaining confidentiality can also be helpful.

Partnering with Community Organisations

Forge partnerships with local domestic violence organisations, such as Employer’s Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA) to provide additional support and resources for employees in need. Managers can also host internal awareness campaigns and events to educate employees and encourage a supportive workplace culture.

Establishing clear policies and protocols

If you don’t already have one in place, it’s best practice to develop a domestic abuse guidance document for managers and employees to clearly outline the support options available. This should include any of the points covered above that you plan on implementing in your organisation, how the support and training can be accessed, along with your approach to perpetrators in the workplace.


If you would like professional support in developing robust and effective domestic abuse guidance for your organisation, get in contact with us today to schedule a chat with one of our HR experts.


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