One in ten leave job after separation

Divorce|November 26th 2014

Close to one in ten British workers have left jobs following a divorce or separation – that is the verdict of newly published research.

Comres polled more than 4,000 adults for Resolution, a legal organisation which promotes alternatives to court for family disputes. Nine per cent of the respondents said they had had to leave work after a difficult break-up or knew someone who had done so. Fifteen per cent of those polled, meanwhile, admitted their productivity at work had dropped following the end of a relationship, while 16 per cent reported that either they or a colleague had been forced to take sick leave following a traumatic separation.

However, only ten per cent said their employer offered adequate support for those undergoing the end of a relationship, and more than a third agreed that more could be done to help divorcing employees.

Resolution chair Jo Edwards said the finding emphasised the link between worker’s personal and professional lives.

‘It can be easy to forget that sometimes things going on outside of work have a profound effect on what happens within it, as these figures show.”

The poll was conducted to raise awareness of Family Dispute Resolution Week, a now annual event held to promote alternatives to court.

It is a well-established truism that divorce or the end of a live-in relationship is one of life’s most stressful experiences. However much they may sometimes get on our nerves, however we much we sometimes squabble with them, for most of us our spouse or partner is one of the fundaments building blocks of our lives, an emotional anchor in sometimes stormy seas – and the longer the relationship lasts, the sturdier that anchor seems to become. If you then wake up one day to find ath anchor pulled up from the seabed and your partner, it is very easy to feel that you have been completely cast adrift.

In my years of practice I have had seen many a newly single client in tears on the other side of the boardroom table. Some have so distraught they have lapsed into clinical depression following the end of their marriages, needing medication or counselling to recover. So it does not surprise me in the least to hear that the after-shocks of a divorce or separation are often felt in a workplace too. There is little employers can do but to try to be sensitive to the concerns and problems of valued employees and help them as much as they can within the practical constraints of running a viable business.

An infographic summarising the research findings is available here.

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  1. Luke says:

    “However, only ten per cent said their employer offered adequate support for those undergoing the end of a relationship, and more than a third agreed that more could be done to help divorcing employees.”
    The two points in this sentence seem to contradict each other – I agree with the latter point (i.e. nearly two thirds don’t agree that the employer should do more) – it is in my view not the job of employers to be psychiatrists or social workers.
    Of course the employer should be sympathetic, but that’s about it, because ultimately the job has to get done and extra advantages given to one subset of employees invariably means dumping on another subset.

  2. Andrew says:

    Luke: we agree on this – does that mean we are both wrong?

    Employers have the right to expect employees to leave their private lives outside the workplace. I have a colleague who could bore for England on the unfairness of the outcome of his divorce – he may have been right but it’s not my problem. I once called him out on it when he had a trainee pinned between him and the wall of the restaurant at a team dinner and was bending her ear about it – I made him come outside and told him that whereas I was his equal and could in the last resort tell him to shutnup about it, she could not, and he needed to control himself. Which he did.

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