Whether or not employees should be given ‘divorce leave’ has long been discussed. It has hit the headlines again after a long list of UK companies including Tesco, Asda, NatWest, PwC, Unilever, Vodafone, and Metro Bank publicly stated they are ready to introduce new family friendly HR policies for staff going through a relationship breakdown.
This has stoked the debate as to whether employees should be given ‘divorce leave’ as standard as they would with sick, compassionate or study leave. If progressed, companies would need to change their HR policies and their employment contracts to give divorce or separation the same standing as serious illness and deaths in the family.
They would also need to give careful consideration as to how best to introduce more flexible working conditions to allow divorcing parents to manage school and childcare, provide periods of extended leave and give employees access to specialist professional support when they need them.
Why is divorce leave for employees being discussed?
While there can be no debate that divorce has a significant emotional impact on those involved, a new study published by the Positive Parenting Alliance (PPA) published earlier in 2023 takes a more stringent look at the impact of divorce on employees.
The PPA found:
- 79% of people said that divorce has impacted their ability to work
- 57% did not feel they received the required level of support from their employer
- Employees at small/medium businesses are 4 times more likely to leave the company within a year of going through a divorce than if working at a large company
- 85% of people at large companies stated their ability to work was affected, including decreased productivity
- Employees at small or medium sized businesses are 4 times more likely to leave their job within a year of their divorce than they would if they worked for a large company
These figures have brought the level of upset those going through a divorce or separation into focus. They also highlight the need for employers to provide their colleagues with greater support during these difficult and stressful times.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division of the High Court, was quick to offer his support for the PPA’s recommendations and urged other volume employers like the Civil Service and NHS to support the scheme. From a legal perspective the High Court’s interest could inject significant impetus into the campaign for divorce leave.
Our family law barristers are on hand to help you and your clients navigate the challenges of divorce and separation. If you would like to discuss any family law issue in total confidence, please contact us today.