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Solicitors welcome steps towards compassionate leave during divorce

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90% of respondents said separation affected their ability to work

Solicitors at Kent law firm Furley Page have welcomed a new initiative by the Positive Parenting Alliance that could see employees being offered compassionate leave from work to deal with the breakdown of their marriage or relationship.

The Positive Parenting Alliance (PPA) initiative urges employers to treat a separation as seriously as other major life events, and is encouraging employers to implement policies specifically aimed at supporting those going through divorce or separation. Asda, Metro Bank, NatWest, PwC, Tesco, Unilever and Vodafone are among a group of major businesses that have already signed up to offer more support.

Josie Triffitt, a Solicitor with Furley Page’s Family team, commented: “It is widely recognised that a separation or divorce can be akin to a bereavement, so the PPA’s new initiative is an important step towards getting employers to acknowledge the impact of relationship breakdown on their employees.

“Anyone who has gone through a separation or divorce will know that it is often a difficult, complex and stressful time and for many who are working during this period, it can understandably have an impact on their performance, especially when the parties are dealing with the settlement financial matters or arrangements for their children.”

In a recent survey by the Positive Parenting Alliance, 90% of respondents stated that separation affected their ability to work and 95% said that their mental health was adversely affected, while more than half of the workers feared they could lose their job or thought about resigning. However, only 9% of employees said that their employers had a specific policy for separation and divorce.

Solicitor Eleanor Rogers, from Furley Page’s Employment law team, said: “In the absence of any such policy, the way that a separating or divorcing individual is treated will depend on their line manager’s approach, which may mean that employees are not treated consistently. Furthermore, in this world of hybrid working, issues such as mental health and wellbeing can be harder to spot.

“Employers can have a huge influence by ensuring that their employees feel supported, which in turn supports productivity and staff retention. The PPA’s new initiative is a positive step in the right direction, and going forward it is going to become more important for employers to put meaningful policies in place to provide assistance and support to staff as they cope with the impact of issues like separation or divorce.”

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