COVID-19 AND SUPPORT FOR STAFF AFFECTED BY DOMESTIC ABUSE IN THE WORKPLACE
Domestic abuse costs businesses £1.9 billion every year due to decreased productivity, time off work, lost wages and sick pay. One third of a working adult’s life is spent in work, putting employees in a unique position to create a supportive workplace culture.
The current restrictions in place due to Covid-19 mean that most employees are not seeing staff face-to-face, therefore it may be more difficult to spot some of the usual signs of domestic abuse.
One thing managers can do is check in staff members regularly via phone / video call. Be aware that others could be listening – stick to general welfare questions and make a note of any concerns to avoid putting the employee at further risk.
Business in the Community and PHE has published a domestic abuse toolkit providing further guidance on how employers can support those affected by it.
If you are an employee, remember that your employer has a duty of care towards you as set out in Law and many employers will have a specific staff domestic abuse policy. Don’t be afraid to confide in a trusted colleague if you are experiencing domestic abuse, if it is safe to do so.
The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is:
Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.
If domestic abuse is affecting you or someone you know or are working with professionally, you can contact the local Women’s Aid (who support both men and women) on 01472 575757, or visit the Women’s Aid NEL website at https://www.womensaidnel.org/ for information ranging from support options available to training & awareness.
If you are imminent risk of violence, please call the Police on 999. Non-emergency incidents can also be reported to the Police on 101.
For contact details of further agencies who offer support in relation to domestic abuse, please see the ‘contact details for supporting agencies’ section below.
Multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC)
What is a multi-agency risk assessment conference?
MARAC is a multi-organisation meeting set up to reduce the risk of serious harm or homicide for a victim and to increase the safety, health and wellbeing of victims – adults and any children. In a MARAC, local agencies meet to discuss the highest risk victims of domestic abuse in their area. Information about the risks faced by those victims, the actions needed to ensure safety, and the resources available locally are shared and used to create a risk management plan involving all agencies.
How do I refer a case to MARAC?
Any professional agency can make a referral to MARAC. If a practitioner from a relevant agency identifies a case they consider to be high risk they should first discuss it with their manager. This should include clarifying if the victim has given consent to the process and, if not, that there is legal authority to override the consent. The MARAC risk assessment and referral form can be found in ‘related documents’ below. The completed referral form should then be sent to MARACReferrals@ nelincs.gov.uk
What are the legal grounds for sharing information?
Disclosures to MARAC are made under the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998 and Caldicott Guidelines. Relevant information can be shared when it is necessary to prevent crime, protect the health and / or safety of the victim and / or the rights and freedoms of those who are victims of violence, along with any children. It must be proportionate to the level of risk of harm to a named individual or known households.
Does the victim need to know they are being discussed at MARAC?
If you are the referring agency, it is good practice to discuss the referral with the victim if it is safe to do so. You will need to use your professional judgement to decide whether or not it is safe. The MARAC process works better when the victim is cooperating and gives consent, however, if consent is refused this may be overruled (Crime & Disorder Act 1998, S.115). If you are not the referring agency, you should check with the referring agency before contacting your client to gather relevant information to ensure it is safe to do so.
What happens after a MARAC?
After a MARAC, the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), or a practitioner in regular contact with the victim, will contact them to let them know about the safety plan, measures and support each agency is offering. All MARAC contacts must confirm with the MARAC coordinator when their agency actions have been completed.
Humberside Police Non-emergency – 101
North East Lincolnshire Women’s Aid (supporting men and women) – 01472 575757
National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247
The Samaritans – Freephone 116 123 or Local 01472 353111
Police Domestic Violence Officer (9am – 5pm) – 01472 721224 / 721227
Housing advice – 01472 326296 option 1
NELC Children’s Integrated Front Door – 01472 326292 option 2
Victim Support – 01472 250251 or 356549
Citizens Advice Bureau – 0344 411 1444
National Centre for Domestic Violence – 0800 970 2070
Respect – 08088024040
Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327