Companies get advice on domestic violence

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The Independent Online

Every company in Britain will be urged today to appoint domestic violence counsellors for their staff in a government-backed initiative to combat violent crime against women in the home.

Every company in Britain will be urged today to appoint domestic violence counsellors for their staff in a government-backed initiative to combat violent crime against women in the home.

The project is intended to capitalise on the fact that, for many women, the workplace is one of the few places they can seek help without being detected by their partners.

The advice will recommend firms consider moving women in abusive relationships from roles in which they meet the public, changing their working hours and helping with childcare arrangements.

Domestic violence: A guide for the workplace recognises that violent men sometimes try to control their partners by seizing bank accounts and cards and suggests giving cash advances to those in need.

The TUC code, which has the full backing of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, is timed to coincide with the fifth International Day Against Violence Against Women today.

It states that while employers have no legal obligation to act, the fact that domestic violence is a problem that will affect one woman at four at some point in her life means many workplaces will employ someone with an abusive partner.

The guide states that 20 per cent of all violent crimes reported last year were of a domestic nature. In 1999, 92 women were killed by present or former partners.

The code recommends that one or two members of staff should be named as people to approach if employees wish to discuss personal issues.

They do not have to be counsellors but it suggests they should be trained.

Barbara Roche, minister for Women, said: "We know the workplace can be a place of safety for women, and that they often confide in their colleagues. It is also a place where others notice what is going on."