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If a friend or family member has passed away, then you are likely to want to pay your respects and attend their funeral. But what happens if this is arranged during the working week? 


What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave, also known as compassionate leave, is the term used to refer to time taken off work so an employee can mourn and attend the funeral of a relative or close friend. 


Can I Take Bereavement Leave? 

Employees are entitled to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to take action, which is necessary as a consequence of the death of their spouse, civil partner, child or parent, or a person who lives in the same household as the employee (excluding tenants, lodgers and boarders). This right can include attending a funeral.

It may come as some surprise but, in cases that do not involve a dependent, there is actually no statutory right to time off for the purposes of attending a funeral. However, it is common for employers to allow you to take time off under their company policy.

Check your employer’s staff handbook for its policy on what your entitlement to bereavement leave are, or alternatively, ask your line manager or Human Resources manager.  

Ensure that you comply with any requirements specified in the company’s policy and where possible, give your employer plenty of notice so arrangements can be made to cover your workload and divert phone calls or emails on the day. 

It is important to note that every company or organisation will have their own guidelines regarding bereavement leave, therefore it is important to request to see the staff handbook to find out what your employer’s guidelines are.

What is Reasonable Time Off?

What is a reasonable amount of time off will depend upon the nature of the incident and the employee's individual circumstances.


What is Considered Immediate Family?

The term ‘immediate family’ often refers to any of the following:

• Spouse or former spouse/partner/civil partner

• Child 

• Parent

• Grandparent 

• Grandchild

• Sibling 

• Any of the above relations of an employee’s spouse/partner/civil partner e.g. step child

Some employers may also allow you to take bereavement leave for another relative, such as a cousin, aunt or uncle. 


What is Parental Bereavement Leave?

From 6th April 2020, there is an additional right, entitling employees to take one or two weeks off work following the death of a child under 18 or a stillbirth. The following eligibility criteria applies:

  • Available only to employees.
  • No minimum length of service requirement.
  • Applies on the death of a child under 18, including a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • The right applies to the child's parent(s)

The leave can be taken as a single block of two weeks or as two blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year of the child’s death.

However, it is important to note that the notice provisions are quite onerous, considering the circumstances of the required leave.

  1. You must give notice to your employer of your intention to take parental bereavement leave and must provide the following:
  • Date of the child’s birth.
  • Date on which you choose any period of absence to begin.
  • Whether you intend that period of absence to be for one or two weeks of parental bereavement leave.
  1. If you intend for any week to be treated as parental bereavement leave (the first 56 days beginning on child’s birth) you must notify their employer:
  • You must notify your employer before you are due to start work on the first day of absence from work; or
  • Where it is not reasonable for you to give notice as above, you must do so as soon as is reasonably practicable.
  1. If any week is intended to be treated as parental bereavement leave after the 56 day period, you must give your employer at least one week notice before the start of the week.
  2. You may not cancel any week of parental leave which has already commenced.

What is Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay?

In addition, there is an entitlement to statutory parental bereavement pay for employees with at least six months' continuous service.


Need Further Advice?

If you are an employee and would like legal guidance regarding time off work, or any other employment issue, our friendly and knowledgeable solicitors can help. Get in touch today to speak to a member of our team.


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