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Bereavement Leave: What are the rules?

Bereavement Leave: What are the rules?

For companies to be attractive to employees and candidates, they need to be adaptable and agile in the new world of work. A part of loyalty-building practices for any employer is to be flexible and empathetic, and a reality of managing a workplace’s emotions is to know how to deal with bereavement leave. 

Here, we offer a bit of insight on what rules are in place for bereavement leave.

Future legislation

Whilst there isn’t any statutory right to be paid for bereavement leave, things might be changing.

In recent developments, the UK government is currently planning to introduce the right to two weeks paid leave for employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18, in the new Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) bill. The law is due to come into effect in 2020.

Up to the employer

Much of UK bereavement procedures rely on the employer’s discretion but it is nevertheless essential to a modern working environment to define their own rules. Having distinct bereavement leave procedures in place can help the employee manage anxieties during their time of difficulties; they will not be worried about taking too much time off if there are clear rules.

With so many companies opening up their cultures, some may not know what laws are already in place for bereavement leave.

As a foundation, the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to take a reasonable amount of time off to deal with the death of a dependent (spouse, child or parent and includes someone who relies on the employee for the provision of care).


Businesses are already investing

More and more businesses are also recognizing the importance of employee support networks.

According to MetLife Employee Benefits, when faced with an employee who requires bereavement support, 92% of HR departments offer flexible working, 24% provide access to helplines through their employee benefits provider and 13% offer in-person counselling. Two out of five HR departments say they are considering providing training to help support their staff, and a third are thinking about introducing specialist support services for their employees.


To conclude, in order for employers to accommodate a healthy and flexible working environment, it is up to them to put their own rules in place. This is of course essential when it comes to addressing bereavement leave; being able to determine their own rules will put not only put the employee's mind to rest, but also the manager's.

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