Minimising the impact of separation and divorce in the work place

24 November 2014

“Businesses recognise that the wellbeing of their workforce improves business productivity and in turn, has a positive impact on growth”
John Longworth – Director General British Chambers of Commerce 30/10/14

Separation, divorce and the breakdown of a relationship is an extremely stressful and sensitive process. Although a personal matter, the emotional impact can affect the workplace. It is well documented that divorce reduces work productivity.

Employees who are separating or getting divorced face an endless stream of legal, financial, housing and childcare decisions, and this process does affect productivity. There may be increasing absenteeism as employees need time off for meeting with lawyers, appointments in Court etc. This will lead to decreased productivity and distracted employees, causing potential mistakes. Personal stress can cause difficulties in inter-personal relationships at work. The impact of separation and divorce on health, such as anxiety and depression, can take employees out of the workplace for extended periods of time.

Divorce can be likened to a bereavement with a similar pattern of emotional response from shock, anger, denial, panic, grief and acceptance. All this is going to affect the employee’s ability to work effectively and may also affect colleagues who can find the emotional response hard to deal with. Research undertaken by the family law group, Resolution, has found that businesses are suffering as a result of divorce and separation.

It can be easy to forget that sometimes things going on outside of work have a profound affect on what happens within the workplace. It is estimated that divorce costs the British economy up to £46 billion every year, and the British Chamber of Commerce recently emphasised the relationship between employees’ wellbeing and business productivity.

Separation and divorce is a stressful process and it is vital that employers are aware of the support they can give to their employees during this very difficult time. It is vital that employees are offered not only adequate support when they are going through a breakup, as many have said that they do not feel that their employers offer support and that more could be done to provide such support.

Employers should also be aware of the better ways that employees can deal with separation and divorce. Resolution members help people to manage their separation in a way that minimises conflict, focuses on the needs of any children they may have, and helps them to avoid Court if they can. Separation is always difficult, however, employees can be made aware that there are constructive ways of handling matters which lead to a more satisfactory outcome for families and businesses.

In situations where both parties own and run the business, separation and divorce can be extremely challenging and personal difficulties can get in the way of the smooth running of the business. Again, using an alternative process such as mediation or the Collaborative Process and/or family solicitors who are members of Resolution and committed to assisting in resolving issues in a non confrontational and constructive way can assist in guiding partners/owners through what is a difficult time for the business.

By Mari Magnussen

For further advice, please call us on 01483 543210 or alternatively email