Bereavement leave – introduction for UK employers

Last checked and updated on 4 March 2022

Bereavement leave is a type of leave that is made available to employees who have suffered a bereavement; usually the death of a spouse or other family member. This type of leave can be used to deal with the practical and emotional consequences of losing a loved one.

This article provides an overview of bereavement leave in the United Kingdom, including who is eligible for it and how much time off they are entitled to.

What is bereavement leave?

In the UK, employees may be eligible for bereavement leave if they have lost a close family member. This type of leave can be used to deal with the practical and emotional consequences of the death.

Bereavement leave is a period of time that an employee can take off work to deal with the death. It is usually a set number of days, often five or six, although it may vary depending on the employer.

Practical and emotional consequences of bereavement

Losing a loved one can be an incredibly difficult experience. Bereavement leave can provide employees with time to deal with the practical and emotional consequences of their loss.

The practical consequences of bereavement can include dealing with funeral arrangements, sorting out the deceased’s estate, and coping with the change in family dynamics.

The emotional consequences of bereavement can include feeling overwhelmed, feeling isolated, struggling to cope, and experiencing a range of intense emotions. Bereavement leave can provide employees with time to process their grief and get the support they need.

Who is eligible for bereavement leave?

Employees who have been with their company for a certain amount of time are usually eligible for bereavement leave. This may vary from company to company, so it is important to check the policy. Generally, employees must have been with their employer for at least one year to be eligible for bereavement leave.

Do employers have to offer their employees bereavement leave?

Employers are not required by law to offer bereavement leave to their employees. However, many employers choose to do so as a sign of goodwill. Some employers may also require employees to have been with the company for a certain amount of time before they are eligible for bereavement leave.

What is the statutory entitlement to bereavement leave?

There is no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave in the UK. This means that employers are not required to offer it, although many do. It is important to check your employer’s policy to see if you are eligible for leave.

Are employees paid while on bereavement leave?

Employees are not usually paid while on bereavement leave. However, some employers may provide a small stipend to help cover expenses. This will vary from company to company.

What is the government guidance for bereavement leave?

There is no government guidance for bereavement leave in the UK. This means that employers are not required to follow any specific guidelines when offering it to their employees.

However, many employers choose to follow the ACAS advice. This code recommends that employees be given five or six days of paid leave following the death of a family member.

How to write a bereavement leave policy

If you are an employer who wants to offer bereavement leave to your employees, here are some tips on how to write a policy:

  • Make sure the policy is clear and easy to understand
  • State the eligibility requirements for bereavement leave
  • Outline the procedures for requesting bereavement leave
  • Specify the amount of paid leave employees are entitled to
  • Indicate whether employees can take unpaid leave if they are not eligible for bereavement leave
  • Include any other provisions, such as the requirement for proof of death or the provision of a stipend
  • Let employees know how to access the policy
  • Update the policy as needed to reflect any changes in the law or in your company’s policies.

What to include in a bereavement leave policy

When writing a bereavement leave policy, you should include the following:

  • The eligibility requirements for bereavement leave
  • The procedures for requesting bereavement leave
  • The amount of paid leave employees are entitled to
  • Any other provisions, such as the requirement for proof of death or the provision of a stipend
  • How to access the policy
  • Updates to the policy as needed.

How to support employees when they suffer a bereavement

There are a few things employers can do to support employees when they suffer a bereavement:

  1. Make it easy for employees to access information about the policy
  2. Be understanding and supportive when employees request time off
  3. Allow employees to work from home or take flexible working arrangements if needed
  4. Provide a stipend to help cover expenses related to the death
  5. Make sure employees are aware of any bereavement support services available through the company or externally.

FAQ for employees

What should I do if I need bereavement leave?

If you need bereavement leave, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. Your employer may want you to provide proof of the death, such as a death certificate.

What should I do if I need to take time off for bereavement but am not eligible for leave?

If you are not eligible for bereavement leave, you may be able to take unpaid leave or holiday. This will depend on your employer’s policy. You should speak to your supervisor or HR department to find out more.

What should I do if I am denied bereavement leave?

If you are denied bereavement leave, you should speak to your supervisor or HR department to find out why. You may be able to appeal the decision or find another form of leave that can help you cope with the death of a family member.

Final thoughts for employers

Bereavement leave is an important thing to offer employees, but it is not required by law. Many employers choose to offer it as a way of showing their support and compassion.

When writing a policy for bereavement leave, it is important to be clear and concise. Make sure employees know what they are eligible for and the procedures they need to follow in order to request leave. It is also important to specify the amount of paid leave employees are entitled to.

Employers should be understanding and supportive when employees need time off for a bereavement. Employees may need time to mourn, and it is important that they are given the opportunity to do so. Employers can also offer flexible working arrangements or a stipend to help employees cover any expenses related to the death.

Finally, employers should make sure employees are aware of any bereavement support services available through the company or externally. These services can be invaluable for employees who are struggling with their loss.

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Important – The information provided in our articles is intended to be for general purpose use only, and not advice for you or your business. We strive to publish accurate information, but encourage you to fact-check and seek expert guidance. We recommend that you always speak to a qualified professional to get advice about how to operate your business under your specific requirements and circumstances.