Labour-led Milton Keynes Council will formally implement better support for employees who suffer from domestic abuse after adopting the GMB Union Stop Domestic Abuse Charter.

Working with the GMB Union, the decision taken on Tuesday evening will ensure that the council, as an employer, will sign up to high support standards for employees dealing with domestic abuse, including additional leave if required, mental health support and access to victim support.

The council is also pledging to ensure more staff are trained in spotting domestic abuse and highlighting the signs that not all abuse is physical. Council employees will then be able to use these skills when delivering services to members of the public, helping the more general  fight against domestic abuse.

Research highlights that one in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse, with many ending up suffering more harm than the direct abuse, with an increase in debt, losing employment and even homelessness being linked to domestic abuse. In adopting the Charter the council believes it won’t just be helping individuals who suffer abuse, but it will help to retain and support staff who may otherwise be lost.

The Charter supports the recently adopted MK Domestic Abuse Reduction Strategy that is aiming to reduce overall levels of domestic abuse in MK, and the councils own Domestic Abuse Policy that is a good practice guide for managers. It has been worked on by the GMB Union, Emily Orchard, the Labour Group Political Assistant, and MK Council HR Team.

Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council said: “One in four women and one in six men suffer at some point from domestic abuse. The impact can be devastating. MK Council is committed to reducing the overall level of domestic abuse and tackling the results of abuse. It starts with being a good employer and ensuring our own staff are helped if in that situation, and that they are trained to spot the signs of domestic abuse where it may be happening and what to do in those circumstances.”

Richard Owen, GMB Union Regional Organiser said: “It is important that local authorities adopt a gold standard when it comes to Domestic Abuse. As a union we are pleased Milton Keynes Council is adopting the GMB Stop Domestic Abuse Charter. It will not just help people directly affected with support, but will hopefully help identify more abuse where it is happening and improve the workplace. No one should have to suffer twice for domestic abuse, so adopting policies that support employees during a difficult time makes sense for them and the local authority.”

Cllr Marland concluded: “Adopting this Charter is the right thing to do, but it’s also the sensible thing to do. Retaining staff, improving the services we give to the public and helping vulnerable people are the standards all employers should aim for and Milton Keynes Council is again leading by example.”

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