Corporate report – Statement from Minister Hollinrake: review of domestic abuse statutory leave provision for employees –

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As a government, we are committed to supporting all those experiencing domestic abuse. This includes working with employers so they can raise awareness on the impact of domestic abuse in the workplace, and equip their staff with the skills to recognise, respond to, and signpost employees to specialist support services.

In 2022, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committed to review the current statutory leave provision for employees to consider if this does enough to support victims and survivors who are trying to escape domestic abuse.

Following the Machinery of Government change in February 2023, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) took ownership of this commitment.

I am pleased to confirm that DBT has now completed this review and this statement will set out our key findings and next steps.

To inform this review, I chaired 3 roundtables over the summer with a diverse range of employer, worker and victim representative organisations. I want to thank those who attended for so openly sharing their views. This engagement was highly valuable and provided an insight into the experiences of domestic abuse victims and survivors, what support those experiencing domestic abuse might need in the workplace and examples of best practice.

The first key theme discussed in the roundtables was that the workplace can be a place of safety for victims of domestic abuse. The second, that with the rise of hybrid working, the nature of the workplace has changed. I heard examples of how some employers have adapted and incorporated new practices to keep their employees safe while they work from home.

From here, we discussed how victims can access support, how the workplace can be used to raise awareness of domestic abuse and how employers and government can offer support.

We discussed various challenges that may be faced when accessing support. Some of these situations and factors include instances where the victim and abuser work together. Collecting data on this is particularly challenging, but we have heard anecdotally that it is not uncommon. Various factors such as an individual’s responsibility level within an organisation can make this even more complicated.

We also heard that there can be misconceptions around the idea of what a victim looks like, in terms of who can be a victim and how they might carry themselves and be perceived – particularly in LGBTQ+ relationships. This can hinder, deter and prevent people recognising domestic abuse and seeking help.

One thing everybody in the roundtables agreed on was that domestic abuse should be seen as a workplace issue. By this, we acknowledge the impact that domestic abuse can have on a victim in the workplace, and the role employers can play in supporting affected employees.

There was also a shared view in the roundtables on how important it is that an organisation’s commitment to supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse should be led from the top and not just fall to just a few individuals.

It was clear from the discussions that there are lots of sources of advice available for employers who want to do more to support their employees. This includes guidance shared by organisations such as Acas on how employers can implement their own tailored policies and also put in place support systems such as domestic abuse ambassadors.

As part of our review, we explored whether government should go further and create a specific leave entitlement for those experiencing domestic abuse. We have carefully considered this idea and our view is that now is not the right time to bring forward specific proposals in this area, which are likely to be complex to design given that the needs of victims of domestic abuse can be very different.

We recognise that those experiencing domestic abuse may need additional flexibility in terms of working hours and location. Flexibility is therefore key. For many employers, a relatively simple way of supporting those experiencing domestic abuse can be to offer greater flexibility about when and where someone works, or to make small adjustments to allow time away for appointments.

There is already a range of entitlements which offer time off work including annual leave, emergency time off for dependents and statutory sick pay if someone is too unwell to work. This is alongside the right to request flexible working, which is currently available to employees after 26 weeks with their employer.

From 6 April 2024 the right to request flexible working is available to all employees from day one of a new job, bringing an estimated 2.6 million more people into scope of this entitlement. Employers and employees can also agree flexible working arrangements on an informal and non-contractual basis. This approach might also suit those who simply need a bit more flexibility at work whilst they are managing challenging personal situations.

In our view the right immediate focus is on continued awareness raising and upskilling of employers. This is why, as part of the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Specialist and Support Services competition, ‘The Survivors Trust’ was awarded a multi-year grant to work with employers to raise awareness of domestic abuse and train their employees on how to identify domestic abuse, better understand the impact that domestic abuse has on victims and equip their staff with the right tools to respond appropriately, ensuring that victims receive the support they need.

As well as this, we announced in the 2023 Autumn Statement an additional £10 million of funding in 2024 to 2025 for the Tackling Economic Impacts of Domestic Abuse (TEIDA) fund for projects that prevent abuse and support victims in work.

I want to take this opportunity to put on record my thanks and support to those organisations who have already taken steps to raise awareness of domestic abuse, reduce the stigma and help those in need.

Kevin Hollinrake, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business

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