City giant Linklaters has introduced a policy and package of support for employees who are living with domestic abuse, including paying for emergency hotel accommodation.
There have been reports of a spike in domestic abuse cases during lockdown, making working from home “an intimidating prospect for some people”, the firm noted.
In a statement, Linklaters said it was “committed to ensuring its people are free to live and work in a supportive and safe environment” and has introduced emergency support measures for individuals experiencing domestic abuse:
- Paying for three nights’ accommodation in a hotel and provide a daily living expenses allowance where an employee and any children need to flee their home in an emergency;
- Up to 10 days’ paid leave for people who need to take time out to seek support;
- A one-off payment of up to £5,000 to support an individual in becoming financially and physically independent from their abuser. There will be no requirement to repay the money, which can be paid in a variety of ways to ensure that they have full control of it; and
- Access to Surviving Economic Abuse, a UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of, and transforming the response to, economic abuse. It supports people who needs to fully separate their finances from their abuser.
Linklaters is also working with experts SafeLives to provide training for its HR team and people managers on how to spot the signs, have conversations and signpost support for those living with domestic abuse. Staff will have access to resources for supporting colleagues and loved ones.
David Martin, the firm’s global diversity and inclusion partner, said: “The future of how and where we work remains uncertain. For now, our homes are now our workplaces and it is clearer than ever that domestic abuse is a workplace issue.
“The true scale of domestic abuse is unknown, but we know that there are no shields – it is something that impacts people of all ages, income brackets, education levels and backgrounds.
“We have introduced this comprehensive package of support because we want to send a clear message to any of our people living with abuse that they are not alone, we care, and the help they need is available to them.”
Dr Nicola Sharp-Jeffs, founder and chief executive of Surviving Economic Abuse, added: “This is a particularly challenging time, with Covid-19 social distancing and isolation measures leaving victim-survivors of domestic abuse even more isolated and inadvertently reinforcing the power that an abusive partner holds.
“We know that victim-survivors of domestic abuse will be concerned about their physical safety, as well as their economic well-being.
“We are so pleased to be partnering with Linklaters at such a crucial time to raise further awareness of the devastating impacts of financial abuse and to provide support where it’s needed.”
Briony Williamson, head of training at SafeLives, said: “Recent surges in the reporting of domestic abuse cases, whilst numerous individuals were also losing their office as their safe space, highlighted the importance for employers to be taking action on domestic abuse.
“From the start of our work together, the commitment and enthusiasm of the Linklaters team has been inspiring. The comprehensive package they have created to support staff really puts them at the forefront of employer responses to domestic abuse.”