Insurance firm Zurich UK has initiated new policies to support their employees affected by domestic abuse. These policies were developed in collaboration with Swindon Domestic Abuse Services. The aim is to help employees who are experiencing, have survived or trying to escape abusive personal relationships at home.
Previously, Zurich UK has acknowledged the importance of supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse through their publications. These new policies they have implemented can be seen as a continuation of their commitment to promoting awareness to employers of the impact of domestic abuse on employees.
Domestic abuse is a crucial issue that needs to be tackled. In the UK, this is a rising issue with the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting 1,459,663 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in England and Wales in the year ending March 2021. These numbers are higher than the previous years, with a 6% increase.
Domestic Abuse in the UK
Domestic abuse is generally defined as incidents involving controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour. For some, this includes sexual violence. Cases of domestic abuse are common and can be perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner, or other family members or carers. The victims of most domestic abuse cases are women, with men being the majority of perpetrators.
Domestic abuse can include, but is not limited to:
- Coercive control
- Psychological abuse
- Financial abuse
- Online abuse
As mentioned before, domestic abuse continues to be a prevalent issue in the UK. The UK government has acknowledged that even though it occurs in the home, it can affect all aspects of the victims’ lives – which includes their work.
Zurich UK: Supporting Employees Affected by Domestic Abuse
Over the years, as awareness of domestic abuse has risen, many firms have initiated measures to support employees who are in abusive situations. This recent policy by Zurich UK acknowledges the difficulties that such employees may experience.
Through this policy, they have allowed for paid leave and emergency loans for employees looking to escape their abusive home life. The paid leave they have allowed is offered for up to five days, designating the time for employees in need of arranging childcare and alternative accommodation. They have also introduced training for people managers to help them identify signs of abuse and work with a domestic abuse consultant to provide one-to-one sessions.
As their goal is to ultimately contribute to tackling domestic abuse, they have also included plans to cover employees who may be abusers. This includes a signposting service for employees who are looking for help to address their behaviour.
How Other Firms Can Follow Suit
This initiative by Zurich UK provides an excellent framework for other firms looking to implement policies to support their own employees. Employers are also recommended to implement other measures that can further tackle the issue of domestic abuse such as:
- Upkeeping their duty of care for the health, safety and well-being of employees by creating a safe and supportive workplace
- Considering practical safety or security measures
- Creating a healthy culture that promotes safe communication, so employees feel comfortable seeking help
- Taking a firm stance against abuse which can be considered a misconduct that can lead to disciplinary action