Should you tell your employer about your break-up?


When I worked in the motor industry selling cars, my manager used to say “leave your monkeys at the door.” What he meant was leave your issues outside of the work place and pick them up on your way out at the end of the day. For many people, this is near impossible! The self-talk starts, it’s hard to hide how you feel and often the personal issues you face at home are reflected in your work. When you break-up, it can be incredibly difficult to hide your grief, sadness, shock and overwhelmingly uncertain future. Rachael Scharrer, divorce and relationship expert and founder of Divorce Answered explores the big question: should you tell your employer about your break-up or separation?

With the rise of divorce (let’s not forget de factos divorce too) and the prolonged process that divorcing takes, it is safe to assume that you know someone who has gone through or is currently going through a divorce at your workplace. It is also widely accepted that divorcing is an expensive process, regardless of whether you are self-representing, using a lawyer on a limited scope or have the unlimited support from a family lawyer, and it is imperative that you keep working and retain your employment.

Knowing who to tell and how much you share about what you are going through is entirely up to you. However, there are some benefits to informing your employer and colleagues about your separation. It is likely that you will experience less productivity, less focus, more emotion or sensitivity and need more time away from the workplace. Ensuring that you maintain as much consistency and the highest level of performance that you can throughout this break-up journey is crucial for your career.

However, sharing your break-up with people at work can be helpful so that you have an added and in-built support network. You may consider the appropriateness of sharing with your receptionist, manager and colleagues so that they can be more empathetic and understanding. Here are some considerations for you:

THE RECEPTIONIST CAN FILTER YOUR CALLS You don’t have to tell your receptionist all of your private details, however, having them vet your calls can assist you with prioritising the process of returning the calls and preserving your emotional state while at work. If your ex-spouse calls you at work, your receptionist may be able to politely enquire what the call is in regards to and if the call is of a personal, non-urgent matter, then you may prefer to schedule returning that call when you are on your way home.

IF YOUR MANAGER IS A SUPPORTIVE PERSON If you feel that your break-up could impact your work significantly or for an extended period, it is helpful to inform your manager. Provided that you are comfortable speaking with your manager about your break-up and you feel they would be supportive of your emotional situation, then it is likely that they may be more lenient with your work performance.

IF YOUR MANAGER IS NOT A SUPPORTIVE PERSON The only time I would caution you from sharing your break-up with your manager is if they are the kind of person who might use it against you. However, there may be someone else in Human Resources or upper management that could be trusted with the information about your personal life and situation.

SHARE WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES Colleagues and team mates can be equally important as a support system during your break-up. In the instance that you are working on a project team, sharing your situation with the lead manager may be a good idea because you may need some extra support, especially if it is a particularly difficult or messy break-up.

IF YOU EXPERIENCED ABUSE WITHIN YOUR RELATIONSHIP AND/OR EXPERIENCING IT AFTER BREAK-UP In some relationships, domestic violence is prevalent. Sharing some of the details of what is happening to you in confidence with your manager or a trusted person at work means that you have more people looking out for your wellbeing. Say, one day, you don’t arrive at work and your trusted person knew that this was out of character, they could appropriately raise concern and reach out to you. Failing making contact with you, they could contact your nominated emergency contact or the police (in extreme concern situations).

WITHIN THE WORK PLACE Do your best to be discrete, to limit how much time is spent talking about the separation or taking calls discussing your personal life during work hours. After all, you are at work being paid to perform a role or tasks and your team and manager want to see you trying your best with an understanding that it may be difficult for you. At the same time, you don’t want to appear to be taking advantage of their understanding, tolerance and kindness.

Divorcing is an expensive process which means that keeping your job is crucial. Retaining your employment means that you will be able to move homes and pay for legal advice as well as the many increasing costs that are no longer shared with your partner. Unfortunately, there isn’t a designated time for grieving and getting over a break-up. Each person will experience it in their own way and in their own time. People at work can be a great support system … many may have some great suggestions about with handling the break-up and share their experience with managing a break-up and work.

For more information to establish your company with the right tools and resources to support team members breaking-up and separating, please contact Divorce Answered from the Contact page

Equally, if you would like some individual support, book your Strategy Session here

RELATED ARTICLE 4 Important Steps To Take At Work When You Separate


This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd