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Vodafone steps up care for employees suffering domestic abuse

British multinational telecommunications group Vodafone is the first company to offer up to 10 days paid leave to employees suffering from domestic abuse

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It’s been called the ‘next mental health’ for employers and is about six years behind it in terms of awareness as an issue among employers, but UK telecoms group Vodafone has moved domestic abuse firmly up the agenda with the announcement that it is introducing an HR policy across its markets to help employees who suffer from domestic violence.

Vodafone’s employees globally now have access to support and specialist counselling, as well as up to 10 days additional paid leave. The extra ‘safe leave’ gives employees who have faced abuse time to manage their situation, such as seeking professional help and counselling, attending police or court appointments, making arrangements to move house, and supporting their children.

Specialist training will be provided for HR managers to help them support employees experiencing domestic violence or abuse, including how they can assist them to seek help.

Employers not only have a duty of care toward their employees, adopting policies which support victims also makes good business sense

The policy was inspired by the work of the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s philanthropic arm. The Foundation worked with the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse in the UK and commissioned a study to assess the impact of domestic violence and abuse on people’s work-life and career. It surveyed 4,715 working women and men across nine countries (UK, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, India, Italy and Spain).

The research found:

  • 37% of respondents had experienced domestic violence and abuse in some form
  • 67% of respondents that had experienced domestic violence and abuse said that the abuse affected their career progression
  • 51% of respondents that had experienced domestic violence and abuse felt too ashamed to discuss their abuse at work
  • When employees do discuss their abuse at work, 53% said that positive things happened as a consequence
  • 33% said that an app that people can download to access help and support would help reduce the impact of domestic violence on the work lives of employees

“Vodafone’s new HR policy is inspirational and I very much hope that employers everywhere will follow its example,” says Elizabeth Filkin CBE, who chairs the steering group for the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse.

“Employers not only have a duty of care toward their employees, adopting policies which support victims also makes good business sense. Our research has shown that apart from the suffering it inflicts on victims, domestic abuse significantly impacts on employees’ and their colleagues’ productivity and causes significant levels of absenteeism.”

Vodafone Foundation already offers a free app called Bright Sky which connects victims of domestic violence and abuse to advice and support services. It also has a domestic abuse toolkit for employers which can be can be downloaded here.

The People Space is proud to be a member of the Employers' Initiative on Domestic Abuse (EIDA). For more information on EIDA please click here.

Published 6 March 2019

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