If you are experiencing economic abuse or living with its effects, your workplace may be an important source of support.
As well as providing an income, your workplace may be:
- a safe space away from the abuser
- somewhere you can access support from managers and colleagues.
Economic abuse and employment
Economic abuse can affect your ability to work.
- Experiencing this type of abuse can be physically and emotionally draining. This can make it hard to carry out your role.
- You may have appointments with support services or be going through legal proceedings. The time needed for these activities may also affect your employment.
The abuser may also use tactics that directly relate to your employment. An abuser may try to impact your employment to create economic instability or to cut you off from sources of support.
“He would phone me 10 or 15 times a day while I was at work.”
An abuser may:
- bombard you with emails or phone calls while you are at work
- come to your place of work unannounced
- prevent you from progressing in your career
- force you to limit your working hours
- force you to take on all childcare responsibilities, making it difficult for you to work
- prevent you from accessing equipment or technology you need to work from home, such as a laptop or phone
- make it difficult for you to get to work, for example by destroying a bus pass or hiding your car keys.
If this has happened to you, you are not alone. 17% of victim-survivors have experienced economic abuse related to education and employment (Know Economic Abuse). Those working from home, with limited contact with managers and colleagues, may be particularly at risk.
Support an employer can offer
Even if the abuse you are experiencing is not related to or affecting your work, your employer may be an important source of support.
“My employer changed my phone number and email address so he couldn’t contact me there directly, and they diverted my wages into another account.”
The link between abuse, earnings and pay, means that your employer could be well placed to:
- recognise your situation
- provide effective support.
Your employer may be able to:
Support you to stay safe
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This may include:
- paying your wages into a different account
- diverting phone calls and emails
- changing your email address or phone number
- offering a temporary or permanent change of workplace, where practical
- changing your working hours / pattern
- ensuring you have arrangements for getting safely to work and home again
- alerting reception and security staff if the abuser is known to come to the workplace (including ensuring they have a photograph of the abuser and a copy of any orders against them)
- discussing with you what to tell colleagues and how they should respond if the abuser calls or visits the workplace
- recording any incidents of abuse in the workplace, including telephone calls, emails or visits
- helping ensure that any employee benefits (such as a pension, loan, insurance or company car) cannot be misused by the abuser and do not put you at further risk.
If you are working from home where an abuser might be present, your employer could also schedule more regular meetings if this might help to keep you safe.
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This may include:
- changing your work patterns or workload
- allowing flexible working or special leave, for example for legal proceedings
- taking the abuse into account when setting tasks and deadlines
- offering changes in specific duties.
Offer financial support
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This may include:
- offering a grant, for example through a hardship fund available for employees in difficult circumstances
- offering support with childcare or legal costs
- offering an advance salary payment
- offering paid time off for attending relevant appointments.
The support that your employer can offer may be outlined in a domestic abuse policy, if there is one, or in the employee handbook. Your employer or HR manager may also be able to put specific support measures in place based on your conversation.
Reporting economic abuse to your employer
Telling your employer about economic abuse is a personal choice. You should not feel forced to tell anyone at work, especially if you are worried that the abuser may find out. You are the best judge of your personal safety and security.
If you choose to tell your employer, you may be unsure how to start the conversation. It might be helpful to:
- Talk to your manager privately during a one-to-one meeting, either a regular check-in or a meeting you request.
- Write down what you would like to say in the meeting and bring these notes with you.
- Request to speak to someone in human resources if you are uncomfortable discussing the situation with your manager. You could also request that you speak with someone of the same gender if this would help.
- You can ask for someone else to be present with you, for example a trusted colleague.
Your employer will keep your conversation confidential. However, they may ask for your permission to inform other colleagues if it is necessary for them to be able to offer you support. If your employer believes that you or your children may be in immediate danger, they can support you to inform the police.
Economic abuse and legal protection
You may feel worried about telling your employer that you are experiencing economic abuse. You may not have told anyone else about the abuse, and you may feel unsure whether they will understand your situation. Remember that domestic abuse, including economic abuse, is against the law. Your employer has a legal responsibility to support you by providing a safe working environment and has a duty of care towards you. Following the Domestic Abuse Act (2021) for England and Wales, this includes considering the impact of domestic abuse on employees.
This toolkit for employers provides more information on the legal responsibilities that employers have towards employees experiencing domestic abuse, including economic abuse.
- ACAS – Acas provides free advice on workplace rights and rules
- Printable resources – You can raise awareness of economic abuse within your workplace with our printable posters.
- Support for employers – We have information for employers on supporting employees experiencing economic abuse. We also offer bespoke training economic abuse for employers.
Last updated December 2022