Domestic abuse: workplace policies and managing and supporting employees

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Public sector
  • Employers

Which countries is it relevant to?

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Eliminating domestic abuse and violence against women is one of the key priorities identified in Is Wales Fairer?

Video: 'It's our business'

‘It’s our business’ tells the story of a domestic abuse survivor.  This real life experience demonstrates how vital a domestic abuse policy is in enabling those experiencing domestic abuse to safely access services and information that can ultimately save their lives.


It takes a hell of a lot of courage

to be able to say,

"Somebody actually did this to me."

"I haven't walked into a door.

I didn't fall down the stairs."

You know,

all of these different excuses

that I'd had to

come up with previously.

And I'd been dropping hints for ages

'cause I couldn't just come out

and say it.

And I knew that we'd had

a work-based policy developed,

but they kept putting

all the posters up in the corridors,

and I didn't want to stand in

a corridor and take the numbers down.

Being a senior manager

and head of equality,

there's a kind of sort of reputation

that goes with it,

and I probably know

a lot more about domestic abuse

than many other people.

And I just went in

and I just told my boss, and I said,

"Look, I've been through

a hell of a lot at the moment."

He looked at me with pity

and I just said, "Don't pity me."

"I've had enough."

He was very supportive.

We changed my telephone number

because I was getting bombarded with

telephone calls every five minutes.

We spoke to my team.

I think it was hard for them,

you know.

They thought

they should have seen it.

And I was very quick to say,

"It's not your fault."

"I've just become

very good at hiding it."

I knew that they had private parking

underneath the building

and I said, "I want a welfare space."

Because I knew, through my job,

that when somebody leaves,

that is one of

the most dangerous points ever.

So we organised a parking space.

I changed my working hours slightly.

A lot of people assume that

if you're a victim of domestic abuse

that you're always off sick,

that you never go into work

and that it costs the employer

in that way.

But, actually, I was always in work.

I never took my annual leave.

If I was sick, I still went to work,

because going to work

was better than being at home.

The weekends weren't safe.

The evenings weren't safe.

Four o'clock in the morning

wasn't safe.

The only safe hours I had were the

seven and a half hours I had in work.

There's a lot of taboo

with domestic violence

because, one,

people do have accidents.

But I think

there are some tell-tale signs,

so things like, yeah, somebody

might be off a lot with sick leave.

But, actually, on the converse,

if somebody's never off,

never ever taken annual leave,

never taken sick leave and yet

it's really obvious they're ill.

Or if their dress sense changes

and they're wearing

really long-sleeved jumpers

on a really hot day,

you've got to ask yourself why.

I learnt how to put make-up on

so that it would hide, you know,

really big bruises.

The police basically said,

"You're quite bright."

"What are you doing

in the situation?"

I'm like, "Well, get him out for me

and I won't be in the situation."

If I wouldn't have spoken out,

I could easily have been dead now,

and I don't say that lightly.

My son could have been

killed or injured.

You know, I want employers

to understand

that they can have

a really important part to play.

But we've got a duty of care

to employees,

but it's also recognising

that, actually,

you know, staff are

your best resource you've got.

And if one hour of paid time

with a solicitor or in a safety unit

actually saves their life,

it's got to be worth it.

For what you're going to get back,

it's got to be worth it.




Why is action needed in the workplace?

  • Every year in the UK at least 3 million women experience violence.
  • Domestic abuse currently costs UK businesses over £1.9 billion a year.
  • 75% of women that experience domestic abuse are targeted at work – from harassing phone calls and abusive partners arriving at the office unannounced, to physical assaults.

What can employers do?

We are encouraging employers to take action so that skilled and experienced staff are able to retain their jobs and feel safe and supported in the workplace.

Last updated: 02 Dec 2016

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

Phone: 0808 800 0082

You can email using the contact form on the EASS website.

Also available through the website are BSL interpretation, web chat services and a contact us form.


Opening hours:

9am to 7pm Monday to Friday
10am to 2pm Saturday
closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays

Alternatively, you can visit our advice and guidance page.