On 16 February 2022, ACAS published new guidance, Time off work for a bereavement. The guidance is designed to help employers handle staff bereavement at work and understand an employee’s legal right to time off.
The guidance explains the statutory rights that a bereaved employee may be entitled to, including dependant’s leave, parental bereavement leave, maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave and paternity leave. In circumstances where there is no legal right to time off and the employer does not offer compassionate leave, the guidance recommends that employers consider the use of annual leave, sick leave or unpaid leave to support bereaved employees. The guidance also explains the rights to pay for time off taken as a result of a bereavement.
ACAS advise that it’s important for employers to:
- be sensitive to what each person might need at the time
- consider the person’s physical and emotional wellbeing, including once they’ve returned to work
- recognise that grief affects everyone differently, there is no right or wrong way to grieve and it can affect people at different times following a death
Employees have the legal right to unpaid time off for dependants following the death of a parent, partner or someone they live with or care for. A parent of a child under the age of 18 that dies may be entitled to parental bereavement leave which gives a right of up to 2 weeks’ time off. If a working parent meets certain eligibility criteria then they could also be entitled to parental bereavement pay.