Siobhan Baillie MP believes costly employee benefits could be a waste of money if parents aren’t offered support at work when going through a separation or divorce.
Speaking in the Houses of Parliament at the launch of the Parents Promise initiative yesterday (26 January), she explained that conflict at home can significantly impact people’s productivity at work.
The MP for Stroud said: “The government can spend millions and billions of pounds on things like mental health procedures, heath work or employment packages and employers who work really hard to look after their own employees and support them really well…all of that can be lost and all the cash and effort can be completely wasted if parents and children are going home to family conflict and if there’s chaos in the home.
“If we don’t fix that part of our society and our families and our lives, then a lot of the other stuff is a complete waste.”
The Parents Promise, launched by the Positive Parenting Alliance, aims to encourage organisations to implement more family-friendly HR policies for employees going through separation or divorce. This includes recognising both as life events and signposting available support.
Tesco, Asda, Metro Bank, NatWest Group, PwC, Unilever and Vodafone are among the first companies to have already signed up to the initiative.
Baillie, a former family law solicitor who also worked for the organisation One Plus One which focuses on strengthening relationships, said she was thrilled to see big employers getting involved in this agenda.
She added: “I think particularly HR professionals see the day-to-day impact of family breakdown and parental separation on employment productivity. You know that when an employee is going through a difficult time at home the cohesiveness in work there’s often very difficult times that they are having to tell HR about or are suffer with privately. So anything we can do to help employers help families or raise awareness is absolutely vital, and as you will all know this country has a lot of work to do in raising productivity.”
Explaining that she cares passionately about this area of work, Baillie explained that a large part of why she became an MP was to make a difference and “create new ways of working and new ways or supporting families”.
She said: “I could see through decades of work that our policies, our laws, our narratives were not assisting families, were in some respects leading to family breakdowns and certainly the early intervention that all of us know is necessary is unfortunately not in our fairly lives.”
Other speakers at the launch included James Hayhurst, founder of the Positive Parenting Alliance, Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Court Division, and behavioural economist Rory Sutherland.