Subecca Sheikh: How can employers support staff going through a divorce?

divorceA year has passed since the introduction of the no-fault divorce. The idea behind it was to pave the way for amicable collaboration, easing negotiations and overall reducing the mental health impact of divorce. It was a way to make the process manageable and approachable.

The law was set to forge the way for a new way to settle finances and matters pertaining to children by taking out unnecessary unpleasantries and getting parties to move forward in an amicable manner. However, it has not had 100% the desired effect. This is not because of the legislation, but has more to do with the fact that collaboration in divorce is a concept that can be quite alien to family law solicitors.

Support from employers and encouragement to focus on round-the-table negotiations to help facilitate the way for amicable collaboration can help reduce the mental health aspect of divorce.

There are a few simple things employers can do, such as offer flexible working for meetings with solicitors and allow employees to have time off to attend them, even at short notice. This flexibility is even more important when considering that divorce may change employee commitments regarding childcare, too. Businesses might even consider offering an extended leave of absence to a member of staff going through a divorce.

Employers should also check in with employees, who may worry that the workplace is not the right place to discuss their private lives. However, keeping one’s personal and professional lives separate is sometimes impossible, so it is important for employers to let staff going through divorces know that they are there for them and are willing to talk at any time should they want to.

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They should provide extra support, too. Businesses that offer private health insurance to employees may want to consider extending this to include mental health support. Other ways to support divorced staff members include reducing their workload and respecting their privacy.

Subecca Sheikh is a senior associate solicitor at Perduco Law