It is timely that the UK government has launched a review of employment rights for survivors of domestic abuse to look at what more could be done to help them in the workplace. With the UN Secretary-General António Guterres stating that: “…lockdowns and quarantines are essential to suppressing COVID-19. But they can trap women with abusive partners” this is, unfortunately, going to be a growing concern. The review comes as the government’s ground-breaking Domestic Abuse Bill continues through Parliament which will bring into law a statutory definition of domestic abuse that includes coercive or controlling behaviour, as well as emotional and economic abuse.
As part of the review, views are sought on the availability of flexible working and unplanned leave for domestic abuse survivors. Other options to improve the workplace for survivors include how employers can help tackle economic abuse, such as by paying wages to a different bank account or making emergency salary payments available for those in real financial hardship. The review has been launched as the government recognises that, with one in five survivors needing to take time off work due to abuse, employers must have the confidence and knowledge to provide support.
The review will involve a call for written evidence from stakeholders on the specific employment needs of domestic abuse survivors, and how they are met by current employment rights and practices. The government also seeks to explore examples of best practice from employers within the UK, as well as evidence from other countries on how they approach domestic abuse, to see how the UK’s current employment framework could be enhanced.
The review will also include a series of roundtables, run by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Home Office (HO), with organisations and individuals who wish to share their views directly.
For the moment, written submissions are invited by 9 September. For more information on the specific questions the government is asking employers to consider, please click here.