Developing a workplace bereavement policy

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.”

Groucho Marx

lit candles remembering a lost oneBereavement leave occurss when an employee takes time off from work following the death of a family member. There is no statutory obligation on an employer to provide bereavement leave. It is considered good practice to allow an employee some paid time off following the death of a close family member. In this article we provide a useful bereavement policy template, and, take an in depth look at how to support a grieving worker in a time of stress.

Coping with grief

Death is present in life. The death of a loved one affects the bereaved in many ways and for a longer period than many realise. How we cope with the loss of a loved one can affect how we deal with life's challenges, including returning to full output at work.
Employers and work colleagues can help a grieving worker go through the stages of grieving and learn to cope with the loss. This in turn leads to improved morale, reduces the likelihood of sick leave and staff turnover.

Being proactive

Don't wait for a bereavement to occur. Start developing a company bereavement policy now.
This will send out a clear message that you care about your workforce. It will help managers and line staff deal with a difficult subject, knowing that they are following a well thought out policy.



What are the main elements of a bereavement policy ?

This is covered in an excellent publication by the Irish Hospice Foundation entitled Grief at Work. The download link for brochure is at the end of this article.
The main elements are listed as:
1. Leave entitlement
2. The return to work
3. Supporting employees who are grieving
4. Health and Safety
5. Organisational values and ethos
6. Concluding remarks





How much bereavement leave should I provide?

Bereavement or compassionate leave is usually discretionary. There is no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave. It is best practice, however, to grant such leave.

In deciding the amount of bereavement leave to allow, you should take into account what is considered to be custom and practice in the company. If the employer has granted a set amount of days leave in the past then that amount should be mentioned in the company's bereavement policy.

Where custom and practice does not apply, it is usual to grant up to three days paid leave for the death of a close family member. It is important to define a close family member. It usually includes a spouse or civil partner, daughter, son,parent, sister, brother.


Cooperation and communication

Draw up a draft policy. Use it as a basis for discussion with and feedback from all employees. If changes are suggested which are beneficial, then make the necessary adjustments to the policy. Introduce the policy and build in reviews and updates.
Communicate the policy and introduce training where necessary


Is there a DIY solution to drafting a bereavement policy ?

Yes. We advise you to get help from our experts. However if you want to do it yourself you can download our updated bereavement policy document, together with our simple guide to completing it . You can opt to have the completed document reviewed by one of our experts for peace of mind. Just click on the green button to find out how to purchase our bereavement policy to help improve your workplace.


bereavement policy






For a situation where an employee is caring for a terminally ill parent, or similar circumstances, see Carers leave article, here


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