Acas – new guidance – time off work for bereavement

Posted on March 22nd, 2022

Acas has published new guidance to help employers manage a bereaved employee and to understand entitlements to time off and pay. This includes statutory rights such as dependant’s leave, parental bereavement leave, maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave and paternity leave.

The pandemic has caused additional grief for some employees who may not have been able to be with family and friends when they died or been able to attend the funeral.

Practical advice

The guidance includes practical advice for supporting an employee following bereavement and keeping in touch with them during their time off. It is important not to pressure employees into making any decisions before they are ready. Some employees might need support soon after the death and also after they return to work, for example on the anniversary of the death.

Do you have a policy?

Employers are advised to check they have a bereavement policy in place which clearly sets out an employee’s entitlement to leave, whether this is paid or unpaid, and how managers can respond and support staff after death. Schools may refer to the policy as a compassionate leave or special leave policy.

Good practice

Acas advises that when an employee tells you about the death, it’s good practice to:

  • Offer your condolences.
  • Assure them that they do not need to come to work if they do not want to, and make it clear that work should come second.
  • Ask how they’d like to keep in touch, for example by phone or email.
  • Ask if there’s any important work they need someone else to cover, if appropriate.

Full Acas advice

The full ACAS advice includes the following:

  • Leave and pay when someone dies.
  • If an employee’s child dies.
  • If an employee or their partner has a stillbirth or miscarriage.
  • Parental bereavement leave and pay.
  • Employees: what to do after a death.
  • Supporting an employee after a death.
  • If someone at work dies.
  • The benefits of a bereavement policy.

A link to the Acas guidance can be found here.

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