My name is Ellen. I am a teacher and I have taught elementary
school for over 30 years. People say I’m a good teacher, but at the
moment that’s not true. My Grade 3 classroom is a disaster. I can’t
focus on the kids. I think I’m yelling a lot. Sometimes I just want to
cry. The other teachers have started to look at me funny, but no one
has said anything yet. The teacher in the room next door has come
in to my class a couple of times to see why things seem so noisy
and out of control. Maybe the principal is just going to report me as
incompetent. Why has no one asked if I’m okay?
Last month my husband of 31 years told me he doesn’t love me, and
he’s been having an affair for two years and he’s leaving me. How
will I survive? I may be a good teacher, but I don’t seem to know
much about how to manage in life. How much money do we have?
How will I pay bills – I don’t know anything anymore. I don’t even
know what I don’t know. Michael has done it all for 31 years. I give
him my paycheque and he pays the bills and handles it all. Michael
has always said that I have to keep teaching as we need my pension
for our future, but I think he makes a lot of money – I don’t really
know. Will he take my pension – that happened to a friend of mine.
Then what will I do?
I’m embarrassed and ashamed. Who can I ask? If I tell my principal
I’m not coping, what will happen? I think there’s such a thing as
taking a medical leave, but I don’t know if they will agree that I’m
sick. Am I sick, or just not “accepting reality and getting on with
life?” That’s what Michael says.
for a Storm
HUMAN RESOURCES SHOULD
PREPARE FOR THE IMPACT OF
SEPARATION AND DIVORCE IN THE
By Edit Farun, Charlotte Goldfried and Debbie Shawn
Ellen’s situation is not uncommon; marital separation,
common-law relationship break-ups and divorce occur in
approximately 50 per cent of all relationships. Consider
■■ Approximately 50 per cent of the population will divorce in
■■ According to the 2011 census, five million Canadians separated
or divorced in the past two decades.
■■ Approximately 200,000 Ontario children experience the impact
of this difficult transition.
■■ Four in ten marriages in Canada will end by the 30th year of
marriage according to the Vanier Institute of the Family.
■■ Divorce is the second leading stressor among individuals,
impacting job performance, mental and physical health.
Given these facts, human resources should recognize that at any
given point in time there will be employees within the organiza-tion
who are experiencing a separation or who are fearful that their
marriage is in trouble. While separation and divorce are consid-ered
personal issues, employers would do well to recognize that
the impact of separation and divorce spills over into the world of
work. Unlike situations such as bereavement or short- or long-term
illness, HR, management and colleagues seldom know what
to do when it comes to dealing with a marital separation or a
common-law dissolution in the workplace. So the issue is often
ignored, with the hope that it will pass without too much disrup-tion
at work. Simply put, this is a mistake.
Separation and divorce affect everyone differently. Many people
experience depression and anxiety, abuse drugs or alcohol; oth-ers
become physically ill. Moreover, employees who are dealing
with divorce related issues are more likely to make mistakes. They
lightwise / 123RF
HRPROFESSIONALNOW.CA ❚ CONFERENCE ISSUE 2019 ❚ 19