It’s time to rethink how divorced and separated parents are supported in your workplace.

Did you know?

The UK has the highest rate of family instability in the developed world with 48% of 5 million parents becoming separated before their child(ren) reach the age of 16. More alarming is that over 51% of the 1.2 million cohabiting parents become separated before their child(ren) reach the age of 12.

Divorce and partner separation are two of three most stressful life events after the death of a spouse or partner. And although classed as a personal issue, the impact on employer and employee is extensive.

3 Impacts of divorce or partner separation in the workplace

1. It increases operational costs

Divorce and poor employee mental health costs employers and the UK economy £33 billion and £44 billion respectively, every year.

In 2014, Resolution (national family law association) headlined their research – British businesses are suffering as a result of divorce and separation.

1 in 10 respondents going through separation confirmed having to leave their job after the relationship breakdown or know some who had to.

16 percent said they saw their workplace suffer from sick leave as a direct impact of stress from a divorce, marriage or partner separation experienced by a colleague.

2. Contributes to poor employee mental health

Divorce or partner separation, especially where children are involved, can be very traumatic for parents and children. This trauma is often made worse when the relationship breakdown is hostile and unfriendly.

Listed in the top five most stressful events anyone can experience during their lifetime, many employers have insufficient tools, processes or policies that adequately recognise how stressful divorce or partner separation can be for employees involved.

In addition, the impact of poor employee mental health from divorce and partner separation becomes a significant cost to any employer especially where targets have to be met, smart decisions need to be made or enthusiasm is expected.

3. Employees need better support

“The overwhelming majority of Britons (78%) believe that putting children’s interests first or avoiding conflict (53%) are the most important factors if going through divorce, according to a 2012 survey”

Resolution, the national family law association

As divorce and partner separation becomes more commonplace in society, employers must accept the very serious nature of these life events and the negative impact it has on employee mental health and wellbeing, their colleagues and the wider organisation.

2016 research by ONS and Dialogue First found that 42% of marriages end in divorce, and more than 90% of divorces happen to people of working age. This is a very strong indication that most employers today will be impacted by divorce and partner separation.