If you follow Nectar HR on LinkedIn, you will know that we are raising awareness of domestic abuse in the workplace in April 2021. We will also be working closely with a local women’s refuge and charity, The Haven, in Wolverhampton.

Our aim is to empower organisations to provide appropriate support to victims of domestic abuse, in the workplace.

The following case study is an example of where we have supported our clients, whose employees have sadly been victims.

The employee suddenly goes off sick

A client we worked with last year had an employee go off sick very suddenly over the Christmas period. As the organisation’s HR service provider, we were advised of this by the employee’s line manager. The manager needed further support to deal with this particular absence. She had found it difficult to ascertain a potential return date when speaking to the employee.

When I heard this – that the employee wasn’t sure when they would be back at work – alarm bells rang. It is unusual for an employee to not indicate when they will be back at work. It is even more unusual for an employee to be withholding information.

There were also whispers in the workplace that her relationship with her partner was rocky. And I was also told that there was a child involved.

Is the employee a domestic abuse victim?

I quickly arranged to speak to the employee and establish that her and her child were safe. They had left the family home and moved out of the area to be closer to family. According to the employee, her partner had physically abused her, and intimidated and controlled her. She also alleged that he stalked her at work.

Providing practical support in the workplace

As an organisation, we were able to offer several elements of support.

It was clear she would not be back at work imminently. We therefore arranged for her to use sick pay and annual leave to maintain her financial independence.

We discussed how we could support her when she did come back to work. This included offering a ‘safe word’ that she could use if she wasn’t able to come into work. Essentially, she could call in and use that word, and it would prompt us to take necessary action. We offered flexibility in working hours, so that she was able to get back on her feet more easily. And of course, we signposted her to local organisations for specialised support.

Ultimately, this employee felt that she and her child would be safer out of the local area. She therefore eventually resigned from her role with our client. However, she was keen to express her gratitude for the support she had received from her employer during a very challenging time.

Increasing awareness of domestic abuse in the workplace

As an employer, it is not always easy to spot the early warning signs that an employee may be a victim of domestic abuse. However, there are steps you can take to become more aware and demonstrate to your employees that they are safe at work.

Follow us on LinkedIn for lots of great tips and information, and get in touch with us if you want your business to be a better source of support for victims.