Divorce is by no means an easy time for anyone. There is no predicting the dissolution of a once-harmonious bond, and no real planning is possible for when it does happen. The impacts of divorce ripple out, affecting not just one’s personal life but also their professional life.

As an employer, you may quickly notice an employee navigating the challenges of separation, whether through dips in focus and performance or simply a different demeanour at work. What are your responsibilities as an employer, and what can you do to lighten the load for staff going through a difficult time?

Legal Obligations

As an employer, you are not legally required to provide any specific or targeted support for an employee going through divorce. However, it is nonetheless important to treat them fairly. Dismissing someone based on the assumption that their divorce will impact their work can be strong grounds for unfair dismissal. As such, it’s crucial to remain open and communicate with your employee to provide the necessary support during this time.

Offer Support

Offering emotional support to an employee going through a divorce can make a significant difference to their well-being. If they feel comfortable, you might provide them with the opportunity to speak to you privately about their situation.

Doing this could give you more context around which to build an equitable support plan, and provide resources and organisations that can help. You might help them by putting them in touch with a family lawyer in order to better control the divorce process; alternatively, you and your HR team might have information on support groups or counselling services.

Consider Flexible Work

Flexible work options can help your employee manage their workload and personal life more effectively during the divorce process. There are some that will find work a helpful distraction, while others may need time off to deal with their emotions or the tangible impacts of other personal matters. Either way, options for flexible or part-time work can make all the difference.

Leave of Absence

An extended leave of absence may be the best course of action if your employee needs an extended period of time to evaluate their situation and reconcile their feelings. By providing your employee with the option to take a leave of absence, you can help alleviate the stress they may be experiencing, and expedite their recovery – supporting them and ensuring they remain an effective and engaged employee.

Supporting employees through divorce is an oft-overlooked angle for employers – but it can be vital to building a strong and cohesive team. By offering emotional support, flexible work options, and understanding, you can help your employees manage their personal and work lives effectively.