Domestic Abuse Policy
Advice for Employees
Welsh Language - Employee Rights
Roles & Responsibilities
Right to privacy
Documentation of a disclosure
The University believes that every employee who is experiencing, or has experienced, domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking should be able to disclose such behaviour(s) to their employer. The University is committed to dealing with any such disclosure in a supportive and, where possible, confidential manner.
This Policy provides employees with a safe place to disclose and is also aimed at helping those who have concerns that a colleague or peer may be experiencing abuse. It also provides a framework for those receiving the disclosure to respond appropriately.
This Policy also applies equally to ongoing (current) domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking or that which has taken place in the past that affects an individual’s ability to work.
This Policy outlines the assistance and support available both to victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking. It offers guidance to any employee who has concerns about a colleague experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking, whether or not there is explicit evidence that such acts are taking place.
This Policy applies to all employees and is also of potential relevance to those visiting University premises such as agency staff. Staff at partner organisations, as well as visitors and contractors, should normally approach their own organisation in the first instance but are welcome to contact the University for support and advice through this Policy.
The University takes seriously the need to create and maintain a safe and secure environment in which employees can reach their full potential. In this context, there are a number of underlying and supportive initiatives regarding safeguarding of employees potentially at risk of harm, the adoption of a compassionate approach to social and domestic issues and beliefs around the concepts of wellbeing and work/life balance.
The University recognises its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees at work. The University further recognises responsibilities highlighted under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1992) which requires employers to assess the risk of violence to employees and make arrangements for their health and safety.
Other legislation and regulation can be found at Appendix 3.
The University has developed this policy as part of its commitment to support employees' health, safety and wellbeing at work. Domestic abuse impacts on all aspects of a person’s life including their learning, wider resilience, wellbeing and mental health.
The University is therefore committed to promoting zero tolerance of domestic abuse against and by its entire workforce, recognising that domestic abuse:
- Is a crime, is disruptive and socially harmful;
- Can affect an individual’s health, performance or attendance at work;
- Does not discriminate based on sex, race, age, disability, ethnicity, religion, marital status or sexual orientation.
Disclosing abuse, whether current or historic, can be a difficult decision and the University recognises that it is important for the individual to be in control of that decision. This Policy therefore provides information on internal support in addition to specialist independent organisations where disclosures can also be made (see Appendices 2).
The University further recognises that potential difficulties may arise if the University is not made formally aware of experiences of domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking. Such difficulties may include health and safety issues, employee concerns or complaints or action being taken related to performance issues.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse it is important to tell someone, and a list of contact details for various dedicated local and national support agencies can be found in Appendix 2
You are also encouraged to speak with your Line Manager if you are concerned about or are experiencing domestic abuse. Line Managers will not ask you for proof or pressurise you to provide details, they will be non-judgemental, take you seriously and take the time to listen.
Employees wishing to disclose or discuss their experience of domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking may choose to be accompanied at any meetings on the matter by a colleague or trade union representative.
If you prefer, you could also speak with a colleague or your HR Business Partner who can, where appropriate, arrange a referral to Occupational Health as well as signpost you to external support organisations. You may also find it helpful to contact the Employee Assistance Programme directly.
- make a complaint
- respond to a complaint or allegation and employees also have the right to use the Welsh language in meetings where they are the subject of
- complaints and allegations (or have made the complaint) (d) disciplinary proceedings
A simultaneous translation service from Welsh to English will be provided at the meeting when the meeting cannot be conducted solely in Welsh. The University has, in conjunction with its recognised trade unions, incorporated the above requirements into all relevant HR policy and procedural documents.
All managers are expected to familiarise themselves with this Policy and its application. Managers may be the first person an employee confides in and raising this issue will have taken a great deal of courage. The response the employee receives from their manager may be a crucial factor as to whether they seek further advice and support. Managers should therefore ensure that support is offered in a sensitive and non-judgemental way. See Appendix 4
The most important aspect of a conversation about domestic abuse is to encourage the employee to seek support. You should make a note of the date and time of the conversation and of any other important information that may be relevant, but should ensure that you have formal consent from the employee if they request that you contact a support agency on their behalf. Make sure the conversation takes place in a quiet and confidential location.
The employee should not feel pressurised into disclosing personal information they feel uncomfortable sharing, especially as they may need some time to decide what to do. You should also encourage the person disclosing to make their own choices about whether or not to contact services or be referred.
Any information disclosed to a service through referral should be with the consent of the person disclosing and should be on a ‘need to know’ basis unless there is a safeguarding issue.
You should listen carefully, be empathetic and creative in exploring options with the employee especially where it is necessary for them to arrange appointments with solicitors, re-housing, education or childcare agencies during the normal working day. Examples of other support which might be appropriate include:
- Screening of e-mails, mail, texts or telephone calls;
- Temporary adjustments to working hours;
- Temporary change of work location;
- Access to safe onsite parking where this is not already provided.
Employees will be offered up to five days paid leave to attend civil or criminal court hearings as a witness, or if required to attend court to seek an injunction against a perpetrator or alleged perpetrator of domestic abuse.
As a manager, your role is to:-
- Listen first, rather than provide specific advice and guidance too early in the conversation;
- Signpost to trained staff (advocates) within the University (See Appendix 5) or seek specialist advice - maintaining confidentiality (i.e. anonymity of the individual(s) concerned and take advice accordingly;
- Signpost to this Policy so that they can access external bodies directly (see Appendix 2);
- Complete a risk assessment, in conjunction with HS&E Department, where there are concerns within the workplace;
- Provide information as required, but only provide written information about services and support available locally if it is safe to do so. Never provide written information which could be found by an abuser thus placing the victim in even more danger;
- Encourage the employee to provide safe contact numbers and addresses so any correspondence between them and the University does not compromise their personal safety;
- Consider breaking confidentiality only if there is a concern about immediate danger to the employee, colleagues, students or to children or adults at risk of harm (see the Safeguarding Policy for further details). A breach of confidentiality will also take place where the person disclosing is deemed vulnerable or where there are children involved in line with the Safeguarding Policy.
N.B. Confidentiality can also be broken with the consent of the employee or where required by law.
Employees may think that they will not be believed. They may have tried to disclose before and were not taken seriously or they may have been told by the perpetrator that they will not be believed. It is very important to listen carefully rather than look for immediate signs of abuse as there may not be any observable evidence. Not all domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking results in physical injury.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have jointly developed a list of ten actions to help manage domestic abuse in the workplace. The actions highlight how managers can recognise the problem, respond to it, provide support and refer onwards to appropriate support agencies. Please see Appendix 4 for details.
8.2 HR Business Partners
HR Business Partners can also provide advice and support to both employees and managers on this Policy.
It may also be appropriate in some instances to offer the option of speaking with another colleague or to make a referral to Occupational Health.
Should the employee disclosing abuse and the alleged perpetrator both have a connection with the University, advice should be sought from the HR Business Partner so that co-ordinated support and action can be taken to ensure the disclosing employee’s safety and wellbeing at work.
Where the employee believes they may be in imminent danger of serious assault when leaving the workplace, the matter must be discussed in the first instance with the HR Business Partner and, where necessary, escalated to the Principal Safeguarding Officer (PSO) Staff and the Designated Reporting Officer (DRO) who may refer the matter to the Police.
8.3 Security Team
Where the alleged abuser is not an employee but frequents the University as part of the pattern of behaviour, Managers should also consider liaising with the University’s Security Team. This must only be done with the express permission of the employee (victim) and upon taking advice from the HR Department.
If an employee approaches a manager or colleague to disclose their own abusive behaviour, the University will provide them with information about the services and support available, including referral to Occupational Health or the Employee Assistance Programme and appropriate Internal or external support organisations (See Appendix 2).
The University recognises that it plays an important role in encouraging employees to address violent and abusive behaviour, including that which takes place outside of University premises.
Allegations of domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking made against an employee will be managed in accordance with this Policy, in conjunction with any other relevant policy/procedure (e.g. the University’s Disciplinary Policy). Where deemed appropriate, the University may also involve the Police.
The University will fully comply with any police investigation in relation to allegations of domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking made against an employee.
Allegations or disclosures are subject to the following key principles:
- Individuals who disclose, or who are subject of an allegation, will be treated fairly and in a way which is supportive;
- Individuals will be advised to seek support;
- Any internal investigation will be carried out without prejudice and will be, as far as reasonably practical, independent;
- Cases will be investigated as quickly as possible, avoiding unnecessary delays;
- The University will fully comply with any external investigation in relation to allegations of domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking made against an employee.
In cases where both the victim and the perpetrator of domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking are employees, immediate action will be taken to best ensure that parties do not have contact in the workplace.
This includes ensuring that systems prevent the disclosure of personal information such as new addresses.
All actions taken should be recorded in the risk assessment.
The University will take seriously any action taken by a perpetrator involving use of their position or work resources (including time) to find out the whereabouts of a victim. Accordingly, pre-emptive action may be taken by the University including withdrawal of facilities and/or action under the Disciplinary Policy should it be deemed necessary.
The University respects the right to privacy for all its employees. Therefore, whilst strongly encouraging those experiencing domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking to disclose this information, no employee is required to do so.
Employees are encouraged to inform HR in cases where an investigation into allegations is underway, whether they are considered to be the victim or alleged to be the perpetrator of domestic abuse, sexual violence or stalking. The University will aim to manage any risks associated with such investigations on a case by case basis.
Notwithstanding the above, any employee convicted of an offence (including receiving a caution or community order or other out of court disposal must disclose this to the HR Department (via firstname.lastname@example.org) immediately with the overarching aims of mitigating risk to colleagues and to support their behavioural change.
Bystander Intervention Training will be provided for staff. This will include training, on domestic abuse, sexual violence and stalking, including understanding the issues and their impact, responding to disclosure and referral/signposting. For identified key staff, including members of HR, Student Support & Careers Services and Security such training will be mandatory.
All information disclosed should be accurately recorded. Good documentation will help to build up a picture of the nature and scale of the abuse. This information can be released to a third party, with the consent of the victim, and may help in future legal proceedings to secure a prosecution against the perpetrator and safeguard the victim.
This is important even if the person disclosing does not want to press charges at this point. If they later change their mind, or if the police press for victimless prosecution; this evidence could be vital. It can also be used for evidence for mitigating circumstances.
Written documentation should be factual but it is also important to record any concerns and the basis for these. Records should be sent to HR for them to store safely on the employee file. Such records may include injuries, symptoms and any disclosure of abuse. Photographic evidence is also useful. Missed appointments and unanswered calls should also be noted.
According to a report by Universities UK, for those experiencing multiple forms of discrimination – including BAME, women, disabled and LGBT – the barriers to safety are multiplied. Managers will therefore need to take account of potential cultural and social differences which may mean that staff need specialist support and specific signposting to such external organisations, (See Appendix 2). Priority should therefore be given to the safety of the individual disclosing domestic abuse, sexual violence and/or stalking. The person disclosing should be asked directly if they fear for their safety. If they say yes, then the Safeguarding Policy should be followed and a risk assessment completed.
This Risk Assessment should be used within the framework of the University’s Safeguarding Policy. Telling someone that they are at high risk of serious harm may be frightening and overwhelming for them to hear. It is therefore important that the risk assessment is undertaken by a trained member of staff. For further advice and guidance contact email@example.com.
N.B. It should also be noted that people disclosing domestic abuse should not be told to leave the relationship. Leaving should not be encouraged without support and them having a safety plan in place. A safety plan can be made by an individual with the support of others in its creation and effect. A safety plan often involves a range of different factors all designed to protect the individual especially if they decide to leave a partner.
The University is committed to embedding the Equality Scheme into its policies, procedures and practices.
This policy has been equality impact assessed in accordance with this scheme.
The University is committed to embedding the Welsh Language Standards 2018 in its policies, procedures and practices. This policy has been Welsh language impact assessed in accordance with these standards.
Human Resources will co-ordinate a review of this policy in order to maintain compliance with legislation and good practice. The review will be undertaken in liaison with the recognised trade unions and any proposed amendments will be submitted to the appropriate relevant committee, University Executive and Council if required.
Last Reviewed: February 2021
Review Date: February 2026