Small British firms are helping staff pay the costs of their divorces to keep them focused on work, a law firm has said.
Pannone, the Manchester-based law firm, said that bosses were increasingly taking a “paternalistic” approach to their employees’ divorces.
It said that there had been a “marked increase” in the number of companies paying for initial advice sessions and contributing to legal costs for divorces. Some firms even considered their employee so vital they were willing to foot their entire legal bill, running into thousands of pounds.
The law firm said it had not heard of any cases of employers funding divorces until five years ago. But the number of cases has doubled in the last three years.
It said that “economic necessities” in the recession made small companies increasingly concerned to do whatever it took to retain skilled and experienced members of staff.
Vicki McLynn, a senior associate at the law firm, said: “They notice the effect which a divorce can have on someone’s productivity far more than a much larger company would. Given the current economic climate, they can ill afford such distractions, especially if the individuals involved are senior and important to a business’s fortunes.
“More than doing someone a favour which allows them to sort out their private life while keeping a career on-track, it represents a gesture of commitment and support from the firm which, in turn, generates reciprocal loyalty from the staff concerned.”
Firms weigh up the cost of providing legal support against their profitability, the law firm said.
Divorces can last up to 18 months and can affect an employee’s ability to concentrate on work, it added.
Ms McLynn said: “The firms with which we have had dealings are quite pragmatic. They regard any contribution to an employee’s bills during a divorce as money well spent if it helps maintain the volume and quality of work done.”