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Support for separating and divorced employees

Separation and divorce have a big impact on people’s lives and they can be very stressful times which last a number of months, even years, and it is inevitable that some of your employees will experience this. What is the best way to support them during this period of their lives and to ensure the business continues to run smoothly?

Earlier this year, a number of large UK businesses gave their backing for an initiative which offers employees time off work or more flexible working arrangements while they deal with a relationship break up.

There is nothing in law to support people experiencing a marriage or relationship break down, so it is down to individual employers to think about how staff may be affected and what might work in their workplace. In a recent survey, many people said they needed to take extra time off during this period, many felt less efficient at work and some people even stopped working altogether.

The Positive Parenting Alliance has been looking at this issue and they have come up with four suggestions for employers to help them to deal with this.

•  Employers could recognise separation and divorce as a life event in HR policies which will give people the opportunity to seek support.

•  Employers could help parents by giving them access to more flexible working arrangements so that they can better manage school or childcare drop off and pick up.

•  Employers could provide access to or signpost emotional counselling to get them through difficult periods.

•  Employers could signpost access to separation support services so that employees know where to access support using the employee handbook and internal communications.

Employees might also need additional mental health support and businesses should consider separation and divorce as one of the triggers for it, along with poor performance or increased absence and again build into company policies ways to support people. Employers could offer mental health assistance programmes, flexible working and information about improving work-life balance.

There might be a number of ways life can dramatically change for your employees, so think about how best you can support them during their career with you.