Should employers support employees going through a divorce?


Date: 8 September 2023

An HR manager asks an employee how the business can support them while they navigate a divorce.

While there is no legal requirement for employers to provide specific support during divorce proceedings, there are several compelling reasons why they should consider offering assistance to their employees during this challenging time.

Divorce can be emotionally and mentally taxing, often leading to stress, anxiety, and depression. These emotional strains can significantly impact an employee's well-being and performance at work. Supporting employees during divorces can help mitigate these negative effects, resulting in a happier, more productive workforce.

Workplace productivity

A divorce can be a distracting and disruptive life event, affecting an employee's focus and productivity. Employers who acknowledge this reality and provide support can help their employees navigate the process more smoothly, ensuring that work-related disruptions are minimised.

While employers are not legally required to offer specific support during divorces, according to Divorce Bob, they are obligated to adhere to employment laws that may indirectly come into play during divorce proceedings. For example, an employer must comply with flexible working requests that an employee may make due to childcare arrangements resulting from divorce.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Some UK employers offer Employee Assistance Programs, which can include support for personal and family issues, including divorce. These programs often provide access to counselling services, legal advice, and financial guidance, which can be invaluable during divorce proceedings.

Retention and recruitment

Supporting employees during difficult times, like divorce, can enhance employee retention rates. When employees feel that their employers care about their well-being, they are more likely to remain with the company. Additionally, a reputation for being supportive can make a company more attractive to potential recruits.

Demonstrating empathy and support for employees during challenging life events, such as divorce, can contribute positively to a company's culture. A compassionate approach can foster loyalty, trust, and a sense of belonging among employees, potentially reducing turnover rates.

Reducing legal risks

While employers are not obligated to intervene directly in divorce matters, it's crucial to avoid inadvertently creating legal liabilities. Managers and HR professionals should be trained to handle requests for time off, flexible working arrangements, or other related matters in a way that is consistent with employment law and company policies.

Flexibility and accommodation

Offering flexibility in work arrangements can be a practical way to support employees during divorces. This might involve adjusting working hours, allowing remote work , or providing paid or unpaid leave as needed. Such accommodations can help employees manage their personal and family responsibilities during a difficult period.

Communication and resources

Employers can proactively communicate available resources and support mechanisms to employees. This can include sharing information about EAPs, providing access to legal advice services, and directing employees to relevant external resources and organisations that specialise in divorce support.

In summary

While there is no legal mandate requiring employers in the UK to offer support to employees during divorces, there are compelling reasons for them to consider doing so.

By taking a compassionate and supportive approach, employers can enhance employee well-being, productivity, and retention rates. They can also contribute to a positive company culture that values the personal and emotional needs of its workforce.

Employers can choose to offer support directly or by providing access to external resources and services, ensuring that employees have the assistance they need during a challenging life transition. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of both employees and employers to consider the potential benefits of supporting employees during divorces.

Copyright 2023.Article made possible by Tudor Lodge Digital.

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