Domestic abuse survivors could be given salary advances as government launches workplace help review
The review comes as the Domestic Abuse Bill entered the committee stage in the Commons (PA)
Domestic abuse victims “in real financial hardship” could be given emergency early access to their salary under government plans to offer them more support at work.
A new Government-commissioned review of the employment rights of abuse survivors will look at how they can be supported with more flexible working and unplanned leave.
And it will explore options including allowing victims to have their wages paid to a different bank account or gaining access to emergency salary payments in a bid to tackle financial coercion.
It comes after the Domestic Abuse Bill entered the committee stage in the House of Commons last week, and amid concerns about a spike in incidents amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
Launching the review, Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Domestic abuse may occur in the home, but its impact stretches into every aspect of survivors’ lives.
“This review aims to give employers the confidence and knowledge to support workers affected by domestic abuse. It will build the evidence base for possible future action by government and employers, to ensure that survivors are properly supported at work.”
The move was welcomed by the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse, with its chair Elizabeth Filkin saying: “Employers are key to reducing and preventing domestic abuse.
“Our member employers are helping employees who are victims of domestic abuse, providing training and information for employees on how to spot domestic abuse and access help for colleagues, friends and relatives.”
Organisations supporting domestic abuse survivors have reported a surge in calls to dedicated helplines during the lockdown.
Meanwhile a cross-party group of MPs on Tuesday launched a bid to ensure that serious domestic abuse and stalking offenders are registered and monitored in the same way as violent and sexual offenders currently are.
A fresh amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, tabled by Home Affairs Committee chair Yvette Cooper and backed by fellow Commons committee chairs Caroline Nokes and Harriet Harman, would require serial offenders to be registered on the VISOR dangerous persons database.
Ms Cooper, a Labour MP, said: "There are too many heartbreaking stories of people who have suffered terribly or even lost their lives as a result of domestic abuse or stalking by someone who had committed similar atrocious crimes before.
"That’s why we need much stronger action against serial abusers who go from victim to victim, and arrangements to track and monitor those perpetrators in order to protect future victims and prevent further abuse."
On Monday charity Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed the Covid-19 pandemic had “exposed longstanding flaws in the UK government’s approach to domestic violence”.
Hillary Margolis, senior women's rights researcher at HRW, said: “Erosion of support for specialist domestic abuse services was already a national crisis, and this is a critical moment for the government to demonstrate commitment to long-term investment in these services for every woman and girl."
She added: “The attention paid to reports of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic should be matched by concerted action to protect and support victims of violence now and in the wake of the global crisis.
“Lockdowns may be easing, but government responsibility isn’t – and some of the UK’s most at-risk women and girls are counting on this government to protect their lives.”
The National Domestic Abuse helpline can be reached on 0808 2000 247