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Theresa May urges bosses not to force domestic abuse victims to work from home amid coronavirus pandemic

The former prime minister urged firms not to make people work from home if doing so is unsafe. (Image: PA)

2 min read

Theresa May has urged bosses to consider whether any of their workers might suffer from domestic abuse before making them work from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In comments backed by Labour, the former prime minister said for many victims "work is your safe place".

Mrs May told the BBC's World at One that the UK was moving towards a new style of labour market as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, with more staff spending less physical time in their workplace. 

But she warned: "There’s a lot of talk about a new way of working, people working at home.

"It's been shown that people can work at home now. Many people - not everybody - but many people can.

"What I don’t want to see is employers simply saying that everybody who can work at home should be doing so in the future. 

"Because if you are a victim of domestic abuse, work is your safe place.

"And employers need to think about that, think about those of their employees for whom the workplace is a safe place, and being at home is not."

Mrs May said domestic abuse had traditionally been seen as something that "happened behind closed doors".

"But it's a crime," she said.

"It's not right that a human being should be subjected to this abuse and we need to make people aware of that."

Support services across the country have reported an increase in the number of calls for help from domestic abuse victims since the UK entered lockdown in March, with many expecting further spikes as restrictions continue to be relaxed.

Responding to Mrs May's call, Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told PoliticsHome: "The former prime minister makes an important point. We know domestic abuse can be incredibly isolating and being confined at home can make reporting abuse even more difficult.

"That is why we have been calling for the government to make good on the promise of funding support services and get it to frontline agencies without delay, while the police also need the resources to respond.  

"However, it's also important for all of us to be good colleagues, friends and neighbors by looking out for signs of abuse and finding ways to help."

On a visit to Sussex Police headquarters this week, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the government's Domestic Abuse Bill, currently proceeding through Parliament, would "ensure we transform the response to this horrific crime".

 “Our message to domestic abuse victims during this pandemic has been simple - you are not alone.

"I am proud of how communities and our fantastic police have gone the extra mile to support those most in need," she added.

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