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A&O launches its global domestic abuse policy to provide support and guidance for colleagues around the world

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Wim Dejonghe

Senior Partner

London

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Hardman Sasha
Sasha Hardman

Global Chief HR Officer

London

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25 October 2021

Allen & Overy has launched its new global domestic abuse policy, a bespoke package of support and guidance for colleagues who are experiencing domestic abuse or are supporting a colleague who is. The launch of the policy coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month – an international campaign, which acknowledges domestic violence survivors, acts as a voice for its victims and improves education around the issue.

Domestic abuse has a devastating impact on victims and their families, and its occurrence is on the rise around the world: since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports of domestic abuse have increased globally.

Senior partner Wim Dejonghe said: “The safety and wellbeing of our employees is of paramount importance to us and has gained significance in recent times. Domestic abuse is not simply a domestic issue because we recognise that work can and should be a safe place for anyone experiencing this.

“We want to take whatever steps we can to tackle the growth of domestic abuse, and having a policy that sits at the heart of our wellbeing strategy is a simple but effective way for us to help make a difference.”

Sasha Hardman, global HR director, said: “We want to create a culture where our colleagues feel confident to speak up and seek the help they need, knowing we will treat the matter supportively and confidentially. The provisions set out in our new policy, together with our flexible working and leave policies and wellbeing resources, mean we can tailor support to each person’s situation. We hope no one at A&O will need to use this policy, but we’re ready to help if they do.” 

A&O’s Global Domestic Abuse Policy, developed by the firm’s Employee Relations team in consultation with its global HR network, supports colleagues regardless of their location or the legal protections in their jurisdictions and complements existing provisions in those locations. It explains what domestic abuse is, what signs to look out for and offers guidance to line managers and those who may be concerned about the safety of a colleague.

The policy provides a package of support measures for those experiencing abuse, including:

  •  A discretionary pot of GBP5,000 (or local equivalent) per employee to cover items including specialist legal and financial advice, housing support, emergency accommodation and travel expenses to a safe destination.
  •  Support from trained domestic abuse allies
  •  Access to local counselling services
  • Using existing policies, including flexible working, additional discretionary paid leave, annual leave and unpaid leave to help accommodate appointments regarding matters such as childcare, housing and legal advice.
  • Arranging temporary or permanent changes to working times and patterns, redeployment or relocation.
  • Ensuring a safe working environment by, for example, changing a telephone number to avoid harassing phone calls, or arranging a car parking space close to the office.

 The firm is also committed to appropriately supporting employees perpetrating domestic abuse who seek help.

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