The Economic Cost of Domestic Abuse & Poor Mental Health
Mental Health can impact us at any time of our lives and can occur for so many reasons - stress, bereavement, early childhood trauma, PTSD, abuse, violence… are some examples.
The economic cost of domestic abuse and poor mental health is well understood, for example:
In 2019 The Home Office published a report on the economic and social costs of domestic abuse This report estimated that the cost of domestic abuse in England and Wales for the year ending 31 March 2017 was approximately £66 billion, of which an estimated £14 billion arose from lost output due to time off work and reduced productivity as a consequence of domestic abuse; whilst recognising that although this represented the most comprehensive estimate yet it was likely to be an underestimate.
Following consultation on workplace support for victims of abuse in 2020, the UK Government published a report and open letter to employers in January 2021, urging employers to “look at what more your organisation can do to help survivors of domestic abuse”. Although there is currently no specific domestic abuse legislation giving rise to obligations on employers, we believe that employers will be expected to take steps in future.
£316m in economic output is lost by UK businesses each year as a result of work absences related to domestic abuse [ study by KPMG, 2019]; one in four women and one in six men will experience at least one incident in their lifetime; it is likely that members of most workforces will have some experience of it; impact of abuse could result in performance issues, absenteeism or presenteeism, and consequently reduce productivity and lost output; the average loss of earnings per female victim is £5,800 per year; 75% of people experiencing domestic abuse are harassed by their abusers whilst at work. This may also impact on employees who are trying to support their colleague. And rates of domestic abuse escalated during the pandemic.
Independant Law Firm Farrer & Co observe - Employers would be well advised to keep mental health high on their priority list, not least to comply with their statutory obligations and duty of care as an employer, but also because of the impact poor mental health can have on the individual(s) concerned and the wider workforce.
Providing an open, informed workplace with strong, well communicated policies and routes to access support will help employers to recruit and retain staff and build a happy, effective, and productive workforce. Studies provide evidence that there is a need for the development of Employee Assistant Programmes within organisations to support the wellbeing of employees.