Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a difficult time for anyone as it can take a toll on one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. The death of a family member does not only require one time to grieve but also to take care of finances and funeral arrangements.
It is difficult for an employee to focus on their work responsibilities during such a difficult time. Therefore, to show their compassion towards the employees, companies should provide them leave for bereavement as a part of company benefits.
Read on to know more about bereavement leave, its benefits, and whether it is obligatory by law.
What is Bereavement Leave?
The leave for bereavement is a temporary paid time off granted by the employer to an employee in the case of the death of a close family member, relative, or friend.
The paid leave for bereavement gives the employees time to grieve the death of their close ones and heal at their pace without stressing about their office work.
There is no statutory leave for bereavement in the UK. Although companies usually provide three days of paid leave to the employees to show their care, it is not a compulsory leave policy as different companies have different policies for paid leave for bereavement.
How does bereavement leave work?
If the company offers compassion leave for bereavement, the employee needs to connect with the company HR to find out how much time they get. They should also find out which situations qualify for bereavement leave.
If an employee leaves early after being notified of the death, that day will not come under bereavement leave from work. The pay for this period is calculated based on the base pay rate at the time of leave, and it will not include different types of compensations, like bonuses, incentives, commissions, etc.
If the company does not offer leave for bereavement, the employee can take their other paid or unpaid leaves with the permission of their supervisor.
However, if the company provides this leave, the employee must go through their bereavement leave policy to understand its objective, eligibility, procedures, and scope. Doing this can help them be better prepared if they might have to take bereavement leave from work in the future.
Is bereavement leave required by law?
There are currently no laws regarding bereavement leave in the UK till 2021, which means companies are under no obligation to provide paid leave for bereavement to their employees.
However, the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to take unpaid leave following the death of a dependent. The dependent could include a spouse, partner, child (under 18 years) or a dependent person.
If eligible under Parental bereavement leave, parents who have suffered the loss of a child (under 18 years) or have had a stillborn can take two weeks of paid leave.
Even though compassionate leave for bereavement is not legally required in the UK, many companies provide these leaves depending on an employee’s situation.
How long can bereavement leave be in the UK?
When it comes to how long bereavement leave can be in the UK, they are granted by an employer for a reasonable time and are usually given at their own judgment, depending on the situation.
Details of what qualifies for bereavement leave and how much time off for bereavement can be taken are usually described in the employment contracts or a staff handbook.
If nothing like this is mentioned, the employee must discuss the situation with HR.
In case of the absence of leave for bereavement policy, the employee can take sick leave for bereavement.
Why do employers offer bereavement leave?
Companies have bereavement leave for employees because they understand how difficult it can be for employees to work when they have lost a close one.
In such an event of grief, people are not in a physical and mental state to function, leave alone work.
By offering leave for bereavement to employees, companies send a message to staff that they are with them in the moment of grief.
Employees can take leave to come to terms with the loss and carry out arrangements related to the death.
Although companies are under no obligation to provide bereavement leaves, providing them can show the staff that the company understands their position and is with them in a difficult time. Providing bereavement leave can help employees feel respected and valued in the company and thus help the company retain and attract talent.
When can we apply for bereavement leave?
Employees can apply for bereavement leave after the death of a close one.
While almost all companies provide bereavement leave when a parent dies, many companies also offer bereavement leave for a grandparent, uncle, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and others.
As a miscarriage can also impact an individual’s physical and emotional health, companies also provide bereavement leave here too.
Although the law does not require leave for bereavement in the UK, companies understand that people not only grieve the death of someone to whom they are related by blood but also many shares an emotional bond with people and pets. Therefore, many companies also provide bereavement leave for pets.
So, no matter your loss and whether or not it is mentioned in your company policy, you must talk to your HR and let them know about the situation and see what can be done regarding leave.
What is the difference between bereavement leave and compassionate leave?
While both the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement leave is for taking time off after the death of a close one, while compassion leave can also be taken to care for a close one.
Like leave for bereavement, compassionate leave is also not a requirement under the law of the UK, and companies can provide them based on the employee’s situation.
How do I ask for bereavement leave?
When taking a leave for bereavement, check your company’s paid leave for bereavement policy and follow your company’s guidelines.
In the case of the unfortunate event of the passing of a loved one, notify your employer as soon as possible so you can get time for healing without hampering the workflow of your employer.
Determine how much leave for bereavement you need to get some control over things around you, at least.
Next, put your leave for bereavement application in writing after discussing it with your supervisor and complete all the required paperwork.
How much time off can I get for bereavement in the UK?
Most companies give bereavement leave of three to five days.
If the company has a bereavement leave policy, the number of days is mentioned in the employment contracts or a staff handbook. If nothing like this is mentioned, the employee must discuss the situation with HR.
What if my employer does not offer bereavement leave?
If your employer does not offer bereavement leave, employees can take sick leave for bereavement or other unpaid leave.
Do I have to show proof of bereavement?
Most companies do not need the employees to show proof of bereavement. However, some can ask for an obituary note of the deceased.
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