How to deal with the effects of domestic violence in the workplace?

by Paul Whitaker on August 26, 2013

As any business owner can tell you, happy staff are more effective and a positive working environment is something that can make a huge difference to the way a company functions. Having a member of the team who is under a lot of stress, either with work or from issues arising in their private life, can impact seriously on the team’s dynamic. For teams where the members are close and have become friends, this is even more noticeable and can be a key factor in the breakdown of an effective workforce.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Any manager who has noticed a change in the dynamic among a team at work, or even just a change in the attitude of one member of staff, will know that finding out what has changed is important. Some issues resolve themselves in time and some might be due to an increased workload, a looming deadline or a flaw in a working process. If someone in a workplace is suffering from domestic violence, however, the effects can be devastating and wide-reaching. This is when health and safety lawyers could help a company to find a way to minimise the impact on their workforce.

Identify the Causes

Someone who is concerned about their safety can find their responsibilities in the workplace incredibly difficult to fulfil. They may be in physical pain, which naturally makes it difficult to concentrate on any tasks, or the circumstances of their domestic situation may encroach on their working life if their abuser can contact them throughout their day, either by phone, email or in person. It can also take a toll on those working with someone who is finding it hard to focus, as they may feel as though they are taking on more than their fair share of a workload or have their working day interrupted by contact from the abuser. In some cases, co-workers of the victims of domestic abuse may fear for their safety in situations where the abuser may have access to their victim’s workplace. For any firm concerned about the safety of their staff, contacting health & safety solicitors could help them to put some processes in place to protect everyone in the workplace.

How Can You Help?

Anyone who finds themselves with a colleague who is the victim of domestic abuse might feel helpless, but there are ways to help. Offering support may be as simple as providing a listening ear, but if further steps are taken, such as contacting the police, an employer can offer extra help. This could include allowing victims to have time off to deal with their situation by attending court or other proceedings relating to the abuse and the use of company assistance programmes to help them. Health & safety solicitors can help companies to identify ways in which they can support their employees and facilitate their desired outcome.

Help Yourself

As well as making things easier for employees, having a strategy to deal with situations such as domestic violence could benefit your company in other ways. If anyone is being made to feel unsafe in the workplace as a result of domestic abuse, then their employer has an obligation to take action to minimise the risk and protect their staff. Failure to do so could have a negative impact on morale at best or catastrophic results at worst.


Paul Whitaker
I am a partner and head of the firm’s dispute resolution department. I specialise in commercial litigation, property and employment disputes. I have 25 years litigation experience and have acted in a wide variety of commercial disputes, many of them complex and for high stakes. My clients want no-nonsense advice and robust support in helping them resolve their dispute and reach a successful outcome. They expect me, as a partner, to lead the team from the front and be involved in all aspects of the work. I always try to find the best commercial solution by the shortest route possible, which in many cases means reaching a settlement rather than simply pursuing the matter through the courts. I am an experienced negotiator and accredited commercial mediator as well as workplace mediator and member of the Solent & Wessex Mediation Group.

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