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Guide to Bereavement Leave

By 14/09/2022November 27th, 2023Absence Management, Employee Relations
Guide to bereavement leave for employers

Guide to bereavement leave for employers

Bereavement leave is a sensitive subject, making it tricky to understand how and why it works. Involving the death of a loved one, this form of leave is one that your employees probably hope never to ask for. 

Unfortunately, bereavement is a part of life, and you will probably receive a number of these requests over the course of time. Natural HR has put together this guide to bereavement leave in the UK so that you are fully prepared for this situation as and when it arises.

What is bereavement leave?

Bereavement leave is a form of time off that is granted for the death of an employee’s friend or family member. The purpose of this leave is for employees to take time to grieve, attend a funeral, or offer support to their relatives. In this time, it is generally understood that they will not be able to concentrate on their work responsibilities.

In other words, it is a paid compassionate leave based on human needs. It is granted separately from other scheduled leave and is usually requested last minute, for clear reasons. 

How long is bereavement leave?

In the UK, there are currently no laws that compel employers to grant leave for a death in the family. However, there is a clear understanding that refusing this leave is neither good for employee retention, nor is it right. Therefore, most businesses allow three to five days of leave for bereavement.

Difference between compassionate leave and bereavement leave

Compassionate leave is very similar and many people conflate these two terms. The main difference is that bereavement leave is specifically connected to the death of a loved one. Compassionate leave, on the other hand, can refer to time off to look after a sick relative or dependant, or for another emergency involving loved ones.

Reasons for granting bereavement leave

Seeing as bereavement leave is granted at the discretion of the employer, you may be wondering why it should be granted at all. After all, you can choose to refuse it. However, we have found that offering your employees bereavement leave upon the death of loved ones is very important. Here are a few reasons for this: 

Improves employee retention

The truth is, no one wants to work with a company that has no humanity. Offering bereavement leave when your employees are going through a very painful experience will allow them to feel like their organisation supports them. This, in turn, will improve employee satisfaction and retention.

It’s the compassionate option

In the working world, compassion is sometimes lacking. Allowing time off work for bereavement shows your employees compassion in their time of need.

Minimises employee disengagement

During times of emotional turmoil, it can be assumed that employee engagement and performance will be affected. Seeing as the employee in question will likely not be able to concentrate on their work and may affect others around them, granting their leave request actually minimises the disturbance and allows everyone else to continue their work. The employee will then be able to return to their work productively when they return from leave. 

Conclusion on bereavement leave UK

Bereavement leave is an unfortunate reality that most employers and HR professionals will be required to deal with at some point. HR software can make handling leave easy and simple to track so that nothing slips through the cracks.

If you want to know more about the benefits of HR software and how it can make managing your employees more efficient, contact us today.

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