I am going through a divorce or separation should I tell my employer?

Separation or divorce is often cited as the most difficult and testing times of anyone’s life. So in short our advice is, yes, tell your employer if you are experiencing this.

Why?

Firstly, you may simply be required to inform the company or organisation of a change of address or circumstances. It might be stated in your contract of employment or the employee handbook that this is an obligation. But more importantly, to make them aware of the fact that your personal circumstances, even if you think you will be able to continue at work as normal, are difficult at the present time.

You may find that work becomes a bit of a sanctuary; a place to continue on as normal and stop your mind focussing on your personal troubles however life changing events naturally challenge a person’s mental and even sometimes physical health.

It’s important you recognise that on top of normal responsibilities you may also have to contend with the practical thoughts of;

  • Legal rights inc child custody and property
  • Finances; any shared accounts or savings, how you are going to live and pay rent or mortgage day-to-day, who is responsible for the bills?
  • Your status or change of name. Sometimes just ticking the ‘divorced’ or ‘separated’ box on an innocent form can trigger deep feelings of regret, failure, shame and disappointment. All natural feelings because certainly no one sets out to get divorced or separated.

All of these additional worries can lead to an incredible stressful time and letting your manager know what you are going through can often help at work. You may need time off to get to a solicitors or counselling session, or pick your kids up outside of your normal routine.

Remember in your darkest moments you are not alone. You certainly aren’t the first to go through separation or divorce and you won’t be the last. We would encourage you, if you feel you can, to disclose your situation to your employer ensuring they have a better understanding of any absence related to sickness or extra-ordinary appointments and can help with the flexibility you might require in the short to medium term. If you don’t feel you can trust your manager, consider any HR support in the organisation or perhaps the office manager, failing that speak to a Director or more senior manager. You may be very surprised by the support they are willing to offer.

Good luck and chin up!

Human help, whenever you need it.

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