Car manufacturer BMW Group UK and membership organisation the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has launched a new divorce support service for its employees.
The Lawyer-Supported Mediation service, which is being introduced at both organisations in recognition of World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October), enables employees and their separating partner to receive a free and confidential legal consultation with a family lawyer.
Employees will be able to access the service, provided by Dialogue First and its network of family lawyers and family mediators, through their organisation’s employee assistance programme (EAP), staff intranet and employee benefits portal.
BMW Group UK and the RCN will additionally be taking part in an evaluation project as part of the launch, in conjunction with Dialogue First and the University of Liverpool. The University of Liverpool will be independently evaluating the first 50 cases to come through the service, to explore the impact divorce and separation has on mental wellbeing and investigate the link with workplace productivity. The results of the evaluation are due to be published in early 2019. This evaluation follows on from an 18-month pilot previously carried out by Dialogue First and six EAP providers.
The RCN has introduced the new benefit for its 850 employees based in England and Wales as part of its overall health and wellbeing strategy and to support its existing EAP provision. The Lawyer-Supported Mediation service will be communicated to staff using news pages on the organisation’s intranet, as well as through the HR team cascading information through to team managers, who can then signpost the service to affected employees. The benefit launch also aligns with the organisation’s communications focus for this quarter, which is around mental health and caring for one another.
Liz Laughton, head of human resources and people development at the RCN, said: “It fits with our commitment to our people and recognising that nobody can separate home and work; the two are always going to be intertwined, they’re going to overlap and people inevitably will bring the challenges that they’re facing at home in to the workplace all the time. So, if there’s opportunities for us to help people manage the challenges that they face outside of work, then we want to take those opportunities.
“As an organisation that really values its people, it felt like the right thing to do, but for any business, there are gains to be had from supporting your people with the challenges they face outside of work. [For example, gains related to] productivity and absence management.”
BMW Group UK will also be launching the benefit for its business mobility division Alphabet. Adam Lupton, human resources director at Alphabet, added: “Mental health at work is not something you can divide between the office and home. That’s a real challenge for employers so the evaluation is an excellent opportunity for us to continue our innovation and learning as an HR team.”
Jayne Carrington, co-founder at Dialogue First, said: “The data has long been saying that separation is second only to bereavement as a risk to mental ill health. It actually takes employees longer to recover emotionally from separation than it does the death of a loved one. Employers have been slow to realise EAP and other wellbeing services do not have this risk covered and that a more specialist response is needed.”