A leading East Anglian law firm is set to help both victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse thanks to the launch of a Domestic Abuse policy.
Ellisons Solicitors, which has offices across Essex and Suffolk, has a trained HR team equipped to signpost individuals in need to essential resources and services. It is also rolling out Line Manager training to raise awareness and understanding of the potential signs of domestic abuse and what to do if a colleague needs help.
The policy gives support to victims by providing up to ten days of paid leave to access support, manage any legal issues or family arrangements. It is a framework for ensuring colleagues have a safe space to speak about any abuse they may be experiencing in an intimate relationship.
The Firm will also provide support to colleagues who are affected by domestic abuse at work eg. where the perpetrator of the abuse is harassing an individual at work.
Chitra Watson, Head of HR, said: “Domestic abuse, sadly, has always been in existence but, like mental health, has unfortunately not been openly talked about until recent times. The pandemic forced many businesses to become more aware of domestic abuse as part of their well-being support during the extended periods of lockdown, when victims were less able to escape from their perpetrators.
“The key part of raising awareness in this subject is to highlight that domestic abuse can come in many forms of behaviours such as physical or sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, control or coercion, economic abuse and psychological or emotional.
“We hear a lot in the mental health space about being encouraged to bring our whole selves to work. At Ellisons, we aim to support our colleagues in as many ways as possible, as part of our core values Therefore the implementation of this Policy is a natural addition to our supportive culture.
“It is not only about supporting those directly involved, but supporting wider colleagues to have the confidence to approach HR or a Line Manager if they are concerned about someone who they work with.”
One of the components of the policy at Ellisons is ensuring help is there for perpetrators of domestic abuse as well. Chitra said it was vital that any such individuals must voluntarily wish to seek advice and support to address their abusive behaviour.
She said: “This part of the policy is not about excusing or sending out a message of acceptance towards abusive behaviour but referring individuals to appropriate sources of professional help, whilst the safety of colleagues is maintained as the priority.
“For example, the Drive Project, which was set up to work with perpetrators of domestic abuse to protect victims, was found by an independent review to give a significant reduction in the use of domestic abuse through intervention methods.
“By putting this policy out there we are acknowledging domestic abuse does happen and as an employer, we have an important role to play in encouraging individuals, with the right support behind them, to not remain silent and have the courage to call out these behaviours.”