‘Shining a Light on Domestic Abuse’: What can the work place do?

Last month saw professional Manchester members come together to share expertise and best practise on domestic abuse. The theme was workplace support for employees experiencing domestic abuse. Led by TLC (Talk Listen Change), the panel consisted of MSB Solicitors, ELCONS (Employment Law Consults Ltd) and an inner-City GP. Despite the differences in sectors present, there was commonality in interest – protecting employees.

Emma Carey, Managing Partner of MSB Solicitors had a dual contribution – as a family lawyer and as an employer. Emma took the audience through the changes in the law pertaining to domestic abuse, access to public funding for representation and used a comparator of the Republic of Ireland whom are leading the way with public policy reform.

ROI have implemented statutory days of paid leave for anyone experiencing domestic abuse. MSB have adopted the policy for themselves. It follows that anyone experiencing abuse can take paid leave to make vital steps towards safety – whether that be the practicalities of fleeing an abuser; seeking refuge, moving homes, seeking legal advice, arrangements for children, opening new bank accounts etc.

With a successful family department acting for domestic abuse victims, the firm are well versed in the realities of the experience of domestic abuse and the wide-ranging impact it has. With robust support from an employer, the prospects of the person detaching from an abusive scenario are greatly improved.

The talk was holistic. Flowing from the discussion on policy, Catherine Marshall, CEO of ELCONS spoke from an operational perspective on how an employer can best design and implement policy that is effective.

The 5 step process ‘Recognise>Respond>Refer>Record>Review’ provides a robust framework to support both employer and employee to navigate challenging and sensitive waters.

Dr Nupur Arora spoke at length into the role of GPs in identifying signs of abuse. Attending members were given an insight into multi-agency risk assessments and how once a patient presents with those signs this should trigger vital referrals and signposting between services.

Michelle Hill CEO of TLC, gave a sobering overview of the current landscape for survivors of domestic abuse. Michelle’s words inspired employers to empower their employees and not shy away from signs. Parting thoughts to attending members were ‘be curious.’ To collaborate with each other on this event was a much needed starting point.

Thanks is to be given to BNY Melon for providing their facilities to host this event – a great example of how businesses can contribute to efforts to tackle domestic abuse even if their industry does not serve the area. For businesses, as managers of people, the issue is relevant to us all.

The reality is sadly, that services and systems are not quite joined up everywhere. For many, it can be a lottery of postcode as to how well developed policy and systems are to support survivors of abuse. Many professionals do not think to signpost survivors to solicitors for example.

Police and lawyers are vital services that anyone who is being abused should be signposted to. Legal aid should not be discounted until assessed by a practicing family lawyer at a firm with a legal aid contract.

In response to the gaps in professional knowledge, the firm are offering free legal aid training for the third sector, health and care services. Skilling up in this area is a vital resource for employees and to the communities that organisations serve. To enquire about this, please contact Emma Palmer emmapalmer@msbsolicitors.co.uk.