EMPLOYERS are being urged to watch for signs that their staff are being subjected to the domestic abuse known as “coercive control”.

The term refers to such as serious threats, manipulation, tracking a partner’s movements, monitoring phones and controlling finances.

Julie Johns, managing director of the Safe Space Consultancy, has warned that many workplaces have someone suffering from the abuse, or perpetrating it.

She said only 20 per cent of companies had a domestic abuse policy.

“It’s about supporting business to improve their workplace culture and having an understanding that domestic abuse doesn’t just impact on an employee at home,” she said.

“Many employees will consider the workplace as being a safe space where they can escape what’s going on at home.”

But she said many forms of abuse were not easily discussed at work.

The consultancy runs training on the impact of domestic violence and stalking on workplaces, and it urges employers to watch for the signs of abuse.

Coercive control may reveal itself when people don’t have the money for everyday expenses, have their phones or email monitored, change their appearance, are often late or are sick frequently.

Ms Johns said perpetrators have been known to damage company property such as cars, technology and work uniforms to prevent their partner from working.

She said businesses needed to consider how to send out a message that violence and abuse would not be tolerated. They should have a domestic abuse or stalking policy in place and be able to support an employee.

“Many firms will want to support workers but if they don’t know how to do it in the right way, they can endanger that employee,” she said.

The High Sheriff of Dorset has recently teamed up with Dorset Police and Bournemouth University film students to create three short films to raise awareness of coercive control, entitled #cutyourstrings. They can be viewed online at bit.ly/2pwjS0s