A host of major UK employers have signed up to an initiative to support their staff going through divorce.
Businesses including Asda, Tesco, Metro Bank, PwC and Unilever have partnered with the Positive Parenting Alliance (PPA) to promote more family-friendly policies for employees going through a divorce or separation.
A survey by the PPA found that nine out of 10 employees felt a family breakdown impacted on their ability to do their job, leading it to suggest employers treat this like any other major “life event”.
Ninety-five per cent said their mental health suffered when they went through a divorce or separation, the survey also found. Around three-quarters felt less efficient at work, and four in 10 needed to take time off to deal with issues surrounding the separation.
More than half (52%) feared that they might lose their job as a result of the separation or would need to leave voluntarily. Eleven per cent had stopped work altogether, yet only 9% of employers had specific policies or support for separating employees in place.
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“The Australian Family Court promotes the slogan ‘You can separate smarter’,” said Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Court Division. “Encouraging UK parents to ‘separate smarter’ is what [the new initiative] Parents Promise is all about and I am 100% behind the Positive Parenting Alliance in doing so.”
“The immediate emotional impact of relationship breakdown is all consuming. It hits a parent at work just as at any other time.”
James Hayhurst, founder of the PPA, said he hoped the initiative could help change the culture of separation in the UK, with employers playing a critical role.
“Currently few employers recognise or accommodate for employees going through a divorce or separation, even though it affects large numbers annually, and is a huge strain on an individual’s mental health,” he said.
“Often, children are involved and impacted negatively by a family breakdown, and yet divorce is not formally incorporated into HR policies.
“The survey findings are a wake-up call for UK businesses which is why the fact that some of the country’s biggest employers have agreed to make the positive commitment to improving their HR policies is such a major step in employee benefits and wellbeing.”
The campaign launches formally tomorrow (26 January) and the PPA will support any businesses wishing to be part of the initiative with guidance on policies and practical help.
It is asking employers to commit to:
- Recognising separation as a ‘life event’ in HR policy so that those experiencing separation feel recognised and know they can access support.
- Ensuring parents going through a separation have access to flexible working to enable them to manage school and childcare pick-ups and drop-offs whilst they reconfigure their family set-ups.
- Giving employees access to, and pointing them towards, emotional counselling during this period.
- Signposting and access to separation support services so that parents can have the guidance and support that they need to separate in the most compassionate and child-focused way.