An increasing number of firms are offering paid leave, emergency accommodation and other support to staff who are victims of domestic abuse.
The change in company practice arises from a realisation working from home during the coronavirus-induced lockdown is not a safe option for all employees as some will be shut in with their abuser.
“During lockdown we have seen an increase in major firms stepping up and investing in domestic abuse awareness training and resources,” Suzanne Jacob, chief executive of SafeLives was quoted as saying in media reports.
“It’s hugely encouraging because domestic abuse is not a private matter, it is a crime that is enormously damaging, so employers have a duty of care to take it seriously.”
Among larger companies offering support to employees subject to domestic abuse are insurer Aviva, law firm Linklaters and Lloyds Bank.
Aviva and Barclays bank are also training staff to help clients who might be victims of domestic abuse.
Referring to changes brought about by home working in the lockdown, Jenny Lloyd, diversity and wellbeing manager at Linklaters commented: “What could have been seen purely as a domestic issue all of a sudden was more clearly a workplace issue and you have to take action,”
A spokesman for the union Unite said: “With more people working from home than ever before, this issue needs urgent attention in many employers.”
The NatWest bank set aside £1m in June to provide financial lifelines to domestic abuse victims without the means to rebuild their lives. The fund will make grants to cover the costs of food and household bills.