‘Sitting at home moping doesn’t help’: Business expert says bosses should give staff going through a marriage breakup more work to distract them amid calls for official divorce leave
- New scheme would change HR policies to treat divorce like family bereavement
- Today on Good Morning Britain, Tina Knight debated idea with Marvyn Harrison
A business expert today argued it was better to give staff going through a marriage breakup more work to distract them – as she criticised calls for official divorce leave.
An initiative created by the Positive Parenting Alliance and backed by Tesco, Asda and Natwest would change HR policies to state that separation is akin to a family death or illness. This would let staff access leave or flexible working arrangements.
But in a debate today on Good Morning Britain, Tina Knight, who was presented with the Women in Business Award by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, branded the proposals ‘ridiculous’ and revealed she would ‘pile work’ on staff going through divorces.
‘I’ve had many employees go through divorces and worse – and sitting at home moping doesn’t help,’ she said.
In a debate today on Good Morning Britain, business consultant Tina Knight said: ‘I’ve had many employees go through divorces and worse. And sitting at home moping doesn’t help’
Ms Knight, who owns several companies including Nighthawk Enterprises Limited – which helps companies run their back-office services – said employees going through a divorce should take annual leave instead.
She said: ‘Where does this stop? Because everybody has ups and downs in life. I’m waiting for the CV to land on my desk where under hobbies it says ”occasionally working”.
‘It’s getting ridiculous. The larger company can accommodate these large things far more easily rather than the SMEs that I represent.
‘The thing is 75 per cent of companies in this country are small and medium – they are the wealth and job creators.
‘I’ve had many employees go through divorces and worse. And sitting at home moping doesn’t help. Normally I found that they came in they told me, you were sympathetic and their fellow colleagues help them through it.
‘You pile work onto them a bit more because you try to distract them. I give compassionate leave for anything if it’s genuinely compassionate leave. But how long does a divorce go on for?’
However, business owner and recent divorcee Marvyn Harrison disagreed, arguing that divorce was a form of bereavement and giving staff time to manage the ‘laborious’ process of separation would ultimately make them more productive in the long run.’
However, business owner and divorcee Marvyn Harrison backed the scheme, arguing that divorce was a form of bereavement
‘It’s not just a divorce, there’s the macro effects on your family, you lose friends and so many things change,’ he said. ‘The actual process of dissolving your marriage is really laborious, takes up a lot of time and is emotionally very heavy.
‘As a consultant myself for businesses, we always say how can we help the people in our teams. We’re a community, so if you need something – how can we put that into our policies and procedures so it’s automated?’
‘When there are 110,000 divorces every year – that’s 220,000 people going through it every single year. Creating provisions is a really healthy thing to be doing rather than waiting for it to come, seeing their performance decline and then having to react.’
Mr Harrison said he offered staff going through a divorce four half days off work, adding that these kinds of benefits would help them ‘work better and stay longer’.
So far big companies, banks and law firms have signed up to the Positive Parenting Alliance initiative, including Metro Bank, PwC, Unilever and Vodafone.
The new scheme comes as research published on Thursday revealed a family breakdown can have a huge impact on performance at work.
A survey of 200 workers by the Alliance found nine in ten respondents’ work was adversely affected when they divorced.
So far big companies, banks and law firms have signed up to the Positive Parenting Alliance initiative, including Metro Bank, PwC, Unilever and Vodafone
Meanwhile 75 per cent admitted that they were less efficient at work when they were separating and about 40 per cent said they had taken time off as a result.
Half of respondents feared they could lose their job or thought about resigning and 12 per cent said they stopped work altogether.
The Alliance is made up of charities and groups including Relate and Only Mums & Only Dads who have been campaigning for families going through separation and divorce.
President of the family division of the High Court, Sir Andrew McFarlane, also supports the scheme and is pushing for other major employers – including the civil service and NHS – to sign up.
He told the Law Gazette: ‘The immediate emotional impact of relationship breakdown is all-consuming. It hits a parent at work just as at any other time.
‘The Positive Parenting Alliance calls for employers to recognise this impact, and to do what they can to support their employee. [It] offers a “win/win” outcome – good for employers and employees alike.
‘Wise and insightful employers will, I hope, not need to think twice before responding positively to this call.’
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