Divorce leave and family-friendly HR policies are on the rise

Nigel Winter

Nigel Winter


It is often said that the three most stressful events in life are death of a loved one, moving house and divorce.

Given that bereavement leave has long been available, the notion of taking leave for divorce is long overdue – especially as divorce and separation does involve a form of grieving process. Now, thanks to the introduction of the scheme to Parliament by the Positive Parenting Alliance (PPA), divorce leave is becoming a reality for many major UK employers including NatWest, Asda and Tesco. The PPA surveyed 200 workers, the majority of whom (some 90%), said that their work performance deteriorated during their divorce. There are no surprises there, save uncertainty as to why it took so long to get this recognition.

In addition to those going through a divorce, the wider families also suffer and, in particular, the children (the scheme allows for leave for those who have children). Further to this, and with the onset of alternative dispute resolution, many may need to take time off for mediation sessions and meetings with their lawyers. At some point there may be the need for a move to a new house and time off to enable children to settle into a new routine.

The scheme has also attracted judicial endorsement at the highest level. The President of the Family Division of the High Court, Sir Andrew Macfarlane, stated that employers should be treating “… separation as a significant life event, like bereavement or serious illness”.

Organisations that recognise separation as a major life event in HR policy and offer divorce leave, family-friendly policies and flexible working, will be significantly more attractive than their rivals.

The PPA will provide support to businesses with guidance on policies and practical help. If you are an employer interested in offering divorce leave, you can support the Parents Promise at: theparentspromise.org.uk.

If you need advice or assistance in relation to divorce and separation or other family matter, please do not hesitate to contact our family team.

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