Bereavement Time Off Work: An Employer's Guide

By Amanda Beattie
26 Mar 2019

Grief can affect anyone on a psychological, emotional & physical level. And with regards to the workplace, Acas suggests that bereavement is likely to affect one in ten employees in the UK.

Dealing with the death of a loved one is a very difficult time for anyone. And for your staff the feeling can intensify if they have to battle with you to take time off work.

While there currently isn’t legislation requiring you to provide your employees with bereavement leave. The Employment Rights Act (1996) give them the right to take time off work to deal with emergencies concerning their dependents.

But managing bereavement allowance can prove challenging. In most cases, staff members may require immediate time off work. This means there may not be enough time to make alternative arrangements for their duties.

Yet if you’re supporting employees during a difficult period, you can show that your company culture is one that values them. This, in turn, helps to build their commitment towards your organisation.

This article serves as a guide for everything you need to know about granting requests for time off work after bereavement.

Bereavement time off work rights

Some employees may be wondering, "Are you allowed time off work for bereavement?" Yes, is the answer.

You’re obliged to allow your staff members reasonable time off work for bereavement in the UK, although this is “time off for family and dependants.”

The Employment Rights Act 1996 states it’s, “Time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.”

To prevent discrimination, the Equality Act 2010 safeguards employees with protected characteristics. This means you’re not allowed to treat them more or less favourably than other staff members requesting time off work for bereavement because of a protected act.

With regards to pay, you’re also not obligated to pay employees for any time away from work for bereavement purposes. But many employers do offer paid compassionate leave as it’s a sign of great support to your staff.

But whatever approach you take, you should include information about pay in your company bereavement policy.

It’s worth noting, from April 2020 onward, parents and carers who suffer the loss of a child can claim at least two weeks paid parental bereavement leave.

What is considered immediate family for bereavement pay?

Although not governed by law, immediate family members normally include:

  • Person who depends on your care.

How many days are you entitled to for bereavement in UK?

While employees may receive “reasonable” time off work for bereavement or other emergencies, there’s no set amount of time in place.

How much time you get off work for bereavement depends on the situation as everyone reacts differently to grief. While there’s no limit to how many times you staff members can take off for dependants, you may want to talk to them if absences start to affect their work.

Managing bereavement allowance time off work

Having a clear company policy on bereavement leave can help to manage grief in the workplace. It’ll also help your employees know what they can expect in terms of bereavement time off and pay.

Your policy should include any time off work for bereavement rights entitled to employees.

It must also have wording on the allowance for full and part-time employees as well as any circumstances where the company may offer additional unpaid days off.

Expert advice

If you require more information or would like assistance with updating your bereavement policy, speak to a Croner expert today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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