How HR can best support victims of domestic abuse  

The men's England football team kicked off their Qatar World Cup campaign with a thrilling win over Iran this week. While HR departments up and down the country are considering flexible working and extending lunch breaks to let colleagues watch the action live, there are wider issues they could also look at when addressing the safety and wellbeing of staff during prominent events.

Latest figures show incidents of domestic abuse across England and Wales increase by 38% when England lose a football game.

Just as concerning is that they even increase by 26% when they win.

With England set to play three games in just seven days, these are incredibly concerning statistics, no matter the outcome.

The world Cup, domestic abuse and HR:

HR asked to introduce new domestic abuse policy following rise in cases

How to tackle the World Cup in the workplace

UK workers unsure how to help colleagues experiencing abuse

Turning toxic cultures around

Of course, it is not football’s fault. The blame sits squarely with the abusers.

But with domestic abuse cases in England and Wales continuing to rise, what exactly are employers doing to protect our team members during events like the World Cup and year-round? 

With Christmas approaching, this may also bring an increased prevalence, with the pressures this time of year can bring.

In recent years, HR has seen an evolution in how we can look after our workforce. We encourage our colleagues to bring their whole selves to work, so it is only right we have their wellbeing at heart too. Domestic abuse policies are becoming increasingly more prevalent.

They are an important framework for businesses that set out what HR and employers can do to support colleagues who may be experiencing domestic abuse at home, no matter the form it takes.

From giving vital training to line managers so they can effectively signpost victims to essential resources and services, to guaranteeing paid days off so victims can take the necessary time they need to support children and themselves through a difficult time.

It is also important to acknowledge that domestic abuse is not only experienced by women. A good domestic abuse policy should be inclusive to encourage any employee who is facing abuse to seek support.

As employers, it is also our role to do what we can to intervene in an appropriate way. It is why a robust domestic abuse policy will also address support for perpetrators.

To be clear, it is vital any such individuals must voluntarily wish to seek advice to address their abusive behaviour.

It is not about excusing or sending out a message of acceptance, but referring individuals to appropriate sources of professional help, whilst the safety of colleagues is maintained as the priority.

There is no better time than now, for all employers and HR departments, to take the right action to help colleagues who may be suffering.

HR can have a significant impact in creating the right environment, where domestic abuse victims feel able to seek vital support and guidance.

Chitra Watson is head of HR at Ellisons Solicitors