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Domestic Abuse Victims: Workplace Support

Volume 687: debated on Thursday 14 January 2021

I am tabling this statement for the benefit of hon. and right hon. Members, to bring to their attention the Government’s report into support in the workplace for victims of domestic abuse.

This report, which I am publishing today, sets out the key findings from the review conducted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy this year, as well as the areas of work which Government will take forward as a result of this review.

This review is part of the Government’s agenda to raise awareness and build understanding about the devastating impact of domestic abuse on victims and their families. The landmark Domestic Abuse Bill, led by the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, aims to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state will do everything it can, both to support them and their children and to pursue the abuser. The Bill includes a wide range of measures to better protect and support victims of domestic abuse and their children for the long term.

Alongside the measures in the Bill, we know that accessing and remaining in work is vital for victims of domestic abuse. Work provides not only an income, and the security that brings, but also opportunities to make social connections, and maintain health and wellbeing. For individuals experiencing domestic abuse, the workplace itself can also be a place of safety and respite from the abuser, and a place where they can make the arrangements they need and contact specialist services.

To inform this report, BEIS launched a call for evidence in June seeking evidence of how workplaces can most effectively support victims of domestic abuse. This received 126 written responses from individuals, representatives of victims, employers and their representatives, trade unions and others with interest. We also held a series of roundtables and meetings to discuss the issues in more depth with the designate domestic abuse commissioner, the victims commissioner, trade unions, specialist charities and service providers, employers and their representatives across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

With the right support and encouragement, employers can play a key role in helping to lift the lid on this often hidden and always hideous crime. The report considers what pragmatic, effective new measures could be put in place in the workplace by Government and employers. It is structured around three main themes:

Raising awareness and understanding of the impacts that domestic abuse can have on individuals and employers.

Building and sharing best practice among employers.

The role that employment rights play in addressing the needs of victims of domestic abuse.

The work does not end with this report. We will work together with employers, representatives of victims and trade unions to continue to build awareness and understanding of domestic abuse and drive good practice across the board. The evidence provided showed that flexibility can help victims in situations where they need to access services. We will take forward the manifesto commitment to consult on ways to ensure that flexible working becomes the default for everyone, which we know will benefit individuals experiencing domestic abuse. We will also prepare a consultation on further steps to help victims of domestic abuse in the workplace, for example on how to support them to access existing employment rights such as flexible working more effectively.

I shall place copies of the report in the Libraries of the House.