Helping your nanny deal with domestic abuse outside of work

What is Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse is the abuse of power and control over one person by another and can take many different forms, including psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and financial abuse.

Who does it Affect? 

  • One in four women and one in six men will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime
  • Two women are killed each week, and one man each month, by a current or former partner in England and Wales

Employer responsibilities

The role of a manager is not to deal with the abuse itself but to make it clear through a workplace policy/guidance that employees will be supported and to outline what help is available.

Business Inside the Community, Domestic Abuse Toolkit
  1. Acknowledge
  2. Respond
  3. Refer

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to proactively support your employee’s wellbeing and safety, which can extend to matters occurring outside of the workplace, such as domestic abuse.

Here’s a list of organisations you can refer your nanny to (share this page with them):

Key Principles of Support

  • Avoid victim blaming 
  • Provide a non-judgemental and supportive environment
  • Respect the employee’s boundaries – privacy is essential
  • All employees who experience abuse should be supported regardless of gender and the type of abuse
  • Believe an employee if they disclose experiencing domestic abuse – do not ask for proof

Spotting the Signs

Signs that an employee might be experiencing domestic abuse include: 

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Decreased productivity
  • Frequent lateness or absence
  • Changes in behaviour

Other considerations:

  • Older women and men are less likely to report their experiences of domestic abuse
  • Pregnancy can be a trigger for domestic abuse, and existing abuse may get worse during pregnancy or after giving birth

How to start a conversation if you have concerns

It’s important to have sensitive but open conversations with your employee if you suspect they’re a victim.

You should ask your employee indirect questions, to help establish a relationship with them and develop empathy. Below are some examples of questions that could be used:

  • How are you doing at the moment? Are there any issues you would like to discuss with me?
  • I have noticed recently that you are not yourself. Is anything the matter?
  • Are there any problems or reasons that may be contributing to your frequent sickness absence/ under-performance at work?
  • Is everything all right at home?
  • What support do you think might help? What would you like to happen? How?

What to do when someone discloses domestic abuse

Acknowledge and Respond

Understand it can be difficult for employees to make a disclosure of domestic abuse, and your support is important:

  • DO be sensitive/non-judgemental/ practical/supportive/discrete.
  • DO prioritise safety over work efficiency.
  • DO allocate some private time and space to listen. 
  • DO NOT seek proof of abuse.
  • DO NOT contact the abuser.
  • DO NOT compel a victim to accept support.
  • DO NOT adopt the role of being a support worker yourself.

If the employee or any colleagues are in immediate danger, call 999.

Remember, your job is to help them to feel supported, provide a secure working environment, and offer connections to specialist services.

Respecting Privacy

  • As an employer, you may feel you need to tell someone else about the situation. This should usually be done with the full knowledge and consent of the victim, and only on a need-to-know basis.
  • Any decision to disclose without consent (if a colleague is at serious risk of injury or death) should be documented.
  • Any written record, including any agreed workplace adjustments, should be held outside of official employee records and stored securely.
  • All incidents of violence, threatening behaviour or breaches of security in the workplace should be recorded and retained for evidence purposes if required. The record must be clear, accurate and include dates, times, locations, and any witnesses. Any breaches of orders, for example, non-molestation orders should also be noted.

Workplace Adjustments

  • Agree with the employee what to tell other people (e.g. the school) and how they should respond if their ex/partner telephones or visits the workplace
  • Ensure the employee does not work alone or in an isolated area:
    • ask a neighbour(s) to monitor the workplace (the home) if the home is unsupervised
    • or consider allowing the employee to bring a pre-approved friend to work for support (i.e. another responsible adult)
  • Check your nanny has arrangements for getting safely to and from home

Other examples of workplace adjustments include:

  • Making emergency and safe contact arrangements (that don’t include the abuser).
  • Improving the safety of the employee whilst they are at work. Adjusting their responsibilities and workload.
  • Reviewing communications safety.
  • Changing the employee’s route to/from work, and start/finish time of work hours.
  • Agree special leave for individuals to facilitate any practical arrangements. Examples include: medical appointments, attending court; attending mediation; meeting or calling a solicitor; viewing properties; meeting teachers at school; talking to their bank or getting advice from domestic violence organisations (Koru Kids can help you arrange Emergency Nanny cover if needed)

Contact arrangements:

  • Retain both a work contact and an emergency contact at home (not the abuser).
  • Arrange in advance when and who to contact if an employee doesn’t come in to work (family member/police/neighbour etc.).
  • Maintain communication with the individual during any absence, while keeping their whereabouts confidential from the abuser and other agreed persons.

Questions for your employee if abuse has been disclosed

  • Does the alleged abuser know where you do your nannying work?
  • Have you ever been followed on your way to/from work?
  • Are you frightened of anything specific that might take place at work or to and from work?
  • Does the abuser have your work address and/or my mobile number?
  • To support you fully in your role, who else should I share information about this situation with, and what shall I tell them?

How can Koru Kids help?

We’re here to help you support your employee, by:

  1. acknowledging the situation
  2. responding with appropriate support
  3. referring them to expert services:   


Equality & Human Rights Commission, Managing and Supporting Employees Experiencing Domestic Abuse: A Guide for Employers, March 2013

Business in the Community, Domestic Abuse: A Toolkit for Employers, June 2018

Safe Lives, Responding to Colleagues Experiencing Domestic Abuse, Updated Version 3