Posted On / 04.12.2014

Is Divorce Harming your Workplace?

Is divorce harming your workplace?

While we all hope to have a happy Christmas, it is a time when worries over money and children can easily come to a head.

Sadly, the New Year ‘divorce season’ is a well established phenomenon as couples at the end of their tether pick up the phone to counselling helplines and contact lawyers about divorce or separation.

It seems that time spent face to face over the Christmas holiday can actually lead to more family arguments, increased stress, and a desire to separate and make a fresh start.

Not surprisingly, family breakdown often has an impact on the workplace as well as the home. When an employee is experiencing relationship problems, they may well drop their concentration, make mistakes and request time off.

However understandable this is, it can easily have a knock-on effect on colleagues who may have to cover. Ultimately, it could even harm the productivity and viability of the business.

Recent research by the not-for-profit family law group Resolution shows that 11% of workers in the South West have either had to leave a job because of their own separation, or have seen a colleague move on for the same reason. 17% per cent said they or one of their colleagues has had to take sick leave as a direct result of the anguish of a break up.

Yet, despite the effect it can have on a work team, just 10% of respondents said their employer offers enough help for people going through separation, with 37% saying more could be done to provide support.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to minimise the impact of divorce and separation on a workplace.

A dedicated ‘personal relationships’ policy can help employers and HR managers demonstrate that they care about the wellbeing of their staff and have considered how best to manage difficult situations. It could signpost people to mediation as an alternative to court and even explain how to go about arranging an initial consultation session covered by Legal Aid.  

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process designed to help separating couples make joint decisions without the need to pay court costs. Working in a safe, neutral setting, trained and qualified mediators help the parties reach their own agreements as they separate or divorce.

Going through divorce or separation is a traumatic and life-changing experience.

For an employee, there is no single approach to relationship difficulties that works for everyone. The important thing is to seek advice as early as you can.

When it comes to the workplace, employers should be sensitive and helpful. That way they can at least do their best for the individual involved while also supporting the wider team.

If you are anticipating separation or divorce and would like expert help, contact Battens Family Team. We provide practical legal advice and representation in relation to all aspects of family law including divorce, cohabitation, children’s matters, finance and protection against domestic violence. We can also offer advice and assistance for couples wishing to enter into mediation or use the collaborative process. For more information, call me, Lucy Brown, on 01935 846058, or email lucy.brown@battens.co.uk