Labour Research November 2016

Law Queries

Time off for bereavement

Q. Are bereaved employees entitled to time off work?

A. There is no statutory right to take time off work to emotionally come to terms with bereavement. 

The only statutory right on which bereaved employees can rely is emergency dependants’ leave (S57A Employment Rights Act). Employees are entitled to a “reasonable” period of time off work to take necessary action resulting from the death of a dependant, for example, arranging and attending a funeral. 

There is no qualifying period of service for S57A time off. The employer is not obliged to pay the employee during leave. But Managing bereavement in the workplace, the good practice guide from the Acas employment advisory body, suggests granting some paid leave. Employers may have in place additional entitlements under a bereavement/compassionate leave policy.

Many unions have model policies available, and LRD’s PayLine database has details of compassionate leave agreements. The Acas guidance has a model bereavement policy attached. 

The Acas guide also sets out the importance of employers granting bereavement leave in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, for example, having due regard to any particular religious practices. 

A new Bill for a statutory right to parental bereavement leave (Parental Bereavement Leave (Statutory Entitlement) Bill 2016-17) is currently under consideration. If passed, parents will be entitled to two weeks of paid leave following the death of a child.