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Michele Piertney: Domestic violence: a workplace perspective

Monday 12 September 2016

Michele Piertney, Acas Senior Adviser, discusses domestic violence and the workplace.

Michele Piertney Acas Michele Piertney

Michele Piertney is an Acas Senior Adviser based in Manchester.



I loved working with Sara - her joie de vivre, her intelligence and her kindness drew colleagues to her.

Ok, she could be a bit ditzy sometimes and had a tendency to wear heels that meant that she was always tripping over.

Then there was the time when she hit herself in the face with the cross trainer at the gym.

Who else but Sara would do that to herself?

Except that she didn't.

Months later, talking together in the pub after work, another story emerged. 

Her husband, a well-educated, affluent accountant hit her regularly - for any reason and for no reason.  Violence was part of her way of life.

Helen, another colleague, stayed with her boyfriend after he thumped her for going out after work. She told me that his apologies were a stage towards redemption.

Except that he did it again and again.

Domestic violence does not discriminate - young, old, working or not, female or male, white, black, straight, gay or trans.

But what has this to do with employment or indeed, Acas?

Each year over 2 million people suffer some form of domestic violence and many of them will be working. 

For many the workplace is a safe haven, but domestic violence can impact on employment with increased absence levels, loss of self-confidence, decreased concentration and reduced performance.

Should employers a policy around this?  Maybe. Or could it be included in a mental health policy, absence policy or bullying and harassment training?

Reassuring as they are, policies don't change the world, people do. So line managers that are sensitive, HR managers that are supportive and good relationships at work can help.

As Sir Patrick Stewart says 'domestic violence is protected by silence. More women and children, just like my mother and me, will continue to experience abuse unless we all speak out against it'

So, employers, TU reps, managers, think about your organisations and staff. 

Most of all, raising the issue and developing awareness with employees, line managers, and workplace champions will help to shine a torch into this dark corner.

The TUC has a helpful advice booklet for both employers and union reps -

Or to support a colleague or employee facing these frightening circumstances

Refuge - 24- hour free phone telephone number: 0808 2000 247

For advice and guidance on a range of line management issues, see our new Managing people guidance



  • Posted by Stuart Hancock  |  20 October 2016, 12:12PM

    Hi Michele. I did not include my email.

  • Posted by STUART HANCOCK  |  19 October 2016, 10:53PM

    Hello Michele. Please don't find me rude. I once new a girl Anne Piertney. She lived in a bed sit on the embankment near Dolphin Sq. She was studying to be an accountant. We were close. I was in sergeant the Army at the time. I believe Anne is now a resident in the Dolphin..are you her sister or in-law. This all happend in 1974.

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