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One in four employees would take no time off when a loved one dies

There is a lot of evidence to show that bereavement can be one of the most stressful times for those left behind

With this in mind, it is important that people take time off work to grieve properly; however new research has revealed that as many as one in four workers in Britain did not take any time off following the death of a loved one.

Here we look at UK provisions for bereavement leave and what UK workers think about taking time off after a loved one has passed away.

UK bereavement policy

Most UK organisations do not have a clause in their employment contracts in relation to how much time people can take off work due to bereavement. This may be the reason British workers take so little time off, as they may not realise they are entitled to do so. All employees can take time off for dependants, which is unpaid time to deal with unforeseen situations such as bereavement.

Most companies also offer some sort of compassionate leave; however, this generally means that the employee must explain who has died, with their line manager then having to decide whether compassionate leave or time off for dependents can be granted.

Allowing employees to have a period of compassionate, paid bereavement leave removes the stress for everyone involved, including the person who has been bereaved. This works well provided that managers use their discretion and ensure that the policy is applied consistently across the organisation.

Employees taking time off

While as many as one in four people do not take any time off for bereavement, the research – which was conducted by a family-run funeral service provider – also revealed that one in ten British workers only took one day off due to bereavement.

Overall, however, the survey revealed that British workers think people should take an appropriate period off to grieve. Of the 2,000 people surveyed, one-third felt that the loss of a child justified three weeks or more off work, while one-quarter felt that the same amount of leave was justified for the loss of a partner.

Interestingly, when employees returned to work, more than half of the male respondents felt that they had to hide their grief, compared with just under half of the female respondents.

It is clear that UK workers should take more time off to recover from the death of a loved one, and it is time for UK-based organisations to devise and develop policies that cover this. The result would be one less thing for the bereaved person to worry about.

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