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Divorce policies: does your workplace need them?



In January, businesses including Tesco, PwC and Unilever partnered with the Positive Parenting Alliance (PPA) to promote support for colleagues going through divorce. But six months on, is it time for others to follow their example?

A survey by the PPA found that nine out of 10 employees felt a family breakdown impacted on their ability to do their job, while 95% said their mental health suffered. 

Under the PPA scheme, employers commit to amending HR policies to handle divorce in a similar way to a family death or serious illness. 

More on divorce:

Divorced employees need more HR support

Why ‘divorce season’ is a wake-up call for workplace mental health

Relationship breakdowns are a risk to wellbeing

Mustafa Faruqi, head of reward and workplace relations at Tesco, said divorce policy recognises the impact that separation and divorce can have on colleagues. 

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “As the UK’s largest private sector employer we believe that we have a responsibility to lead the way where we can on socially progressive policies like this, to act as a role model for other employers and encourage them to also support and do the right thing for their colleagues at challenging times.” 

Tesco’s resources for divorcing employees include help from child psychologists about how to manage the impact of separation on children, links to charities such as Gingerbread, which supports single parent-families, social enterprises ‘Only Mums’ and ‘Only Dads’, and Amicable, which supports couples in separating in an empathetic way without using solicitors.  

The supermarket chain also encourages managers to be as accommodating as they can be in terms of time off and flexible working for colleagues during divorce or separation.

Faruqi said: “We think that these changes will support colleagues with managing what can be one of the most challenging life events that they can experience, either via the resources we’ve made available or a more flexible and understanding response from their managers and team. 

“We want to foster a culture where colleagues feel that we really do care about their wellbeing.”  

Anne Hurst, inclusion lead at PwC, also part of the PPA scheme, said while the firm does not have a specific ‘divorce policy’, a culture of flexibility and understanding helps colleagues through any major life events. 

Support available at PwC includes counselling, financial wellbeing support and flexibility policy, which can help parents to manage arrangements like the school drop-off and pick-up.

There is also a parents network, and a Parents and Carers internal site which signposts sources of support. 

Speaking to HR magazine, Hurst said: “There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but at PwC recognise the impact that divorce and separation has on our people’s home and work lives. 

“Key to creating a supportive culture is listening to your people and listening to understand what would be helpful to help them feel supported.  

“The support framework and resources we have in place are all based on feedback from our people.” 

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