Call for paid bereavement leave right for all employees

The CIPD is calling for a new right to paid bereavement leave for all employees experiencing the loss of a close family member in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

bereavement at work


The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development has called for the right to bereavement leave and pay to be extended to all employees experiencing a close family bereavement.

The CIPD has written an open letter to the Business Secretary Alok Sharma, following the introduction of Jack’s Law, a legal right to paid bereavement leave for working parents who lose a child under the age of 18, in April this year.

It wants any employee who experiences the loss of any close family member – including a parent, child, partner or sibling, whether by blood, adoption or through marriage/a partner – to have the right to two weeks’ leave or paid leave from work.

Aside from Jack’s Law, there is currently no legal requirement for employers to pay employees who take leave following the death of a close family member, and while employees have the right to ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with emergencies involving dependants, the law does not state how much time can be taken.

Claire McCartney, Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said: “Losing a family member, partner or friend can have a devastating impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing and employees experiencing bereavement need to be treated with compassion and support in the workplace. Most people have experienced bereavement at some point, and sadly in the UK tens of thousands of people have died as a result of COVID-19 this year.

“Many people will not have been able to say a proper goodbye to loved ones due to coronavirus, which will have been incredibly difficult. It is vital for organisations to properly support those who are experiencing grief and loss by developing policies that offer long-term support and to ensure that line managers are equipped to support bereaved employees. Grief is neither linear nor predictable so employers must also recognise individual circumstances.”

The CIPD has today launched new guidance for employers on compassionate and comprehensive bereavement support. It encourages employers to develop a bereavement policy, to empower managers to support employees, put in place flexible working practices to best support employee needs and provide information to employees on workplace support for bereavement. A separate line manager guide is also available and focuses on how to manage and support a member of a team who has suffered a bereavement.

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