Bereavement Leave: Complete Guide to Bereavement Laws and Policy

Bereavement leave
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  1. What is a Bereavement Leave?
  2. Is a Bereavement Leave Policy Required?
    1. Bereavement Leave Legislation
    2. The Specifics of a bereavement Leave Policy
    3. Policies Regarding Bereavement Leave in Different Countries
  3. Formal Bereavement Leave Policy Document Development
    1. #1. The number of days permitted:
    2. #2. Which employees are eligible for the leave:
    3. #3. Eligibility for bereavement leave:
    4. #4. Whether the leave is paid or unpaid:
    5. #5. Procedure for requesting bereavement leave for an employee:
    6. Bereavement Leave Policy Template
  4. HR Smart Hacks to Make Bereavement Leaves Easier
    1. #1. Ensure that each employee has a coworker who can assist them with any outstanding tasks.
    2. #2. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with the employee once they return from bereavement leave.
    3. #3. Ensure that your leave policy is communicated to the staff and easily accessible.
    4. #4. Create a template for the leave request that your staff must submit.
    5. #5. Provide employees with the option of working on a flexible schedule.
    6. #6. Extend the scope of your Employee Assistance Program to include grief counseling.
  5. An Excellent Example of Bereavement Leave
  6. How to Create and Implement a Bereavement Leave Policy
  7. Duration of Bereavement Leave In The UK
    1. Is Bereavement Leave Paid?
    2. Who Qualifies as an Immediate Family Member for Bereavement Leave?
    3. Is it necessary for employees to provide proof of death when applying for it?
    4. Should managers be encouraged to attend the funeral ceremonies of a deceased relative or an employee?
  8. Bereavement Leave FAQ’s
  9. Does bereavement use PTO?Does bereavement use PTO?
  10. How many times a year can you use bereavement?
  11. What is paid bereavement?
  12. Can an employer ask for proof of bereavement?
  13. How many times a year can you use bereavement?
  14. Can I claim bereavement payment?
    1. Related Articles

There is a social demand in Western civilization for people to grieve fast and silently. The truth is that many people still find it difficult to talk honestly about bereavement and grief. Managing bereavement in the workplace is a highly delicate topic from the standpoint of an employer. Grief can have a significant influence on an employee who has lost a loved one. They may struggle to concentrate at work and may struggle to fulfill their typical position, especially if it involves interacting with customers. The issue of how businesses handle bereavement leave is complicated since loss affects everyone differently. Some people prefer to go about their regular lives and use work as a distraction. So, is there any law or policy regarding bereavement leave? Read on.

What is a Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave, often known as compassionate leave, is a type of paid time off that employees can take after the death of a close friend or family member.

Although there are no regulations requiring employers to provide bereavement leave, most employers provide paid leave on compassionate grounds. They do this by keeping the employee’s suffering in mind. This allows people to grieve, participate in religious rituals, or attend to any remaining legalities.

Empathy in the workplace fosters loyalty. Also, nowhere is an employer’s empathy more openly displayed than in its stance on compassionate leave. Employers must have a bereavement leave policy in place to demonstrate that they care about their employees’ well-being. It is an essential component in creating a respectful workplace. Employee performance and loyalty will suffer as a result of insufficient bereavement leave.

Is a Bereavement Leave Policy Required?

Although a bereavement leave policy is not required, now is the time to demonstrate that you care about your employees’ well-being. Because of the humanitarian character of the leave, corporations do not include it as part of the company benefits.

You let them know that the company is there for them through a difficult period. It informs your employees about what needs to be done, such as how to apply for the leave, how long the leave will last, and what to do if they require additional time, and so on.

Bereavement Leave Legislation

No law protects an employee’s entitlement to bereavement leave. The Employment Rights Act of 1996, on the other hand, grants employees the ability to take time off to deal with an emergency crisis. This includes the loss of a dependent. There is no legal right to be paid for bereavement leave.

In the proposed Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, the government intends to include the entitlement to two weeks of paid leave for employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18. The rule, which is set to take effect in 2020, will provide one of the most generous compensation for grieving parents in the world.

For the time being, bereavement leave is at the discretion of the employer.

The Specifics of a bereavement Leave Policy

The challenge of setting criteria for a bereavement leave policy rests around the reality that grief is subjective. One employee may be alienated from family and manage reasonably smoothly with a bereavement, whilst another employee may lose a close friend and suffer greatly. It is nearly impossible to define scenarios that qualify for special leave entitlements.

Policies Regarding Bereavement Leave in Different Countries

Despite the lack of laws, each country has its common practices when it comes to providing employees with bereavement leave. Here’s how bereavement leave works in several countries:

  • United States: The United States does not have obligatory bereavement leave regulations (save in Oregon). However, many employers provide three days of paid leave for close family members.
  • United Kingdom: Employees in the United Kingdom can take a “reasonable” amount of days off to care for dependents, according to certain sources.
  • New Zealand: Leave is granted based on proximity, cultural responsibility, and logistical considerations. A standard bereavement leave time is three days.
  • Spain: All employees are granted two days’ leave for the death of first- and second-degree relatives. Also, in instances requiring travel to attend the funeral, employees are granted up to four days’ leave.
  • Singapore: There is no statutory right to compassionate leave in Singapore. Bereavement leave is only granted if the employee and company reach an agreement. Typical contracts allow for 3 to 5 days of leave. However, firms like VMware have a robust compassionate leave policy that allows for 4 weeks or 20 working days.
  • South Africa: Under Family Responsibility Leave, employees are entitled to three days of paid leave if they have been with the company for four months. They must have worked four days a week, and the death is of a close relative.
  • China: Such leave is governed by municipal regulations. All Chinese employees are often granted 1 to 3 days of paid leave.
  • France: Those in France are entitled to three days of paid bereavement leave. Employees with deceased children are entitled to five days of paid leave.
  • India: Although there are no legislative requirements for bereavement leave in India, many businesses offer 7 days of bereavement leave. Multinational corporations have a more generous policy.

Formal Bereavement Leave Policy Document Development

Having a documented policy in place allows employees to request bereavement leave without having to scramble to figure out the procedure. It also demonstrates to your staff that you have policies in place to assist them in times of difficulty.

You might begin by thinking about the following when developing the policy paper.

#1. The number of days permitted:

The number of days permitted for bereavement leave is determined by your company’s internal policies. However, you should specify the circumstances under which the employee may take additional days, such as when a spouse or kid dies or when the employee must travel to another location for a funeral.

#2. Which employees are eligible for the leave:

If your organization employs contractual or unionized workers, you must identify which individuals are eligible.

#3. Eligibility for bereavement leave:

Eligibility for leave is determined by the type of relative who has died.

#4. Whether the leave is paid or unpaid:

Make it clear whether or not the employee will be paid for his or her time off and how many bereavement leave days will be paid.

#5. Procedure for requesting bereavement leave for an employee:

This can include the employee’s preferred mode of contact as well as the information they must offer.

Bereavement Leave Policy Template

You can use this template as a starting point and a guide to ensure you cover the most important aspects of the leave policy.

Bereavement Leave Policy for XYZ Company

Policy statementAn employee may be granted bereavement leave in the event of the death of a relative.
Purpose This bereavement leave policy defines when and for how long this leave can be availed, establishes the compensation provided for the leave days, and the procedure to apply for and get approval for the bereavement leave.
EligibilityAll permanent employees are covered under this policy. 
Contractual and freelance employees may take bereavement leave without compensation.
Terms and Conditions1. All employees are entitled to bereavement leave with pay.
2. Bereavement leave is granted to all employees for a maximum of 7 days without a loss of benefits in the event of a death of any of the family members of the employee: Spouse Child, foster child, step-child Parent, parents-in-law, step-parent, foster parent, step-brother, sister, step-sister

3. Bereavement leave is granted to all employees for a maximum of 3 days without a loss of benefits in the event of the death of any of the following family members of the employee: Aunt, uncle, cousins, nephews, or nieces.

4. Bereavement leave is granted to all employees for a maximum of 1 day without a loss of benefits in the event of the death of any of the following: Friend, neighbor, or co-worker.

5. If the employee has any religious ceremonies that require additional time-off, they might be granted these extra leave days without pay.
ProcedureEmployees must send an email to their manager/ HR mentioning the following:
1. Number of days ) they will be on bereavement leave
2. Name of the deceased as well as their relation to the employee
3. Any travel requirements for the funeral.
4. Any religious ceremonies.
ComplianceEmployees who don’t comply with the procedure outlined above will not receive payment for bereavement leave days.
Bereavement Leave Policy Template

HR Smart Hacks to Make Bereavement Leaves Easier

Aside from establishing a bereavement policy for your employees, it is also critical to have other frameworks in place to aid your team holistically.

#1. Ensure that each employee has a coworker who can assist them with any outstanding tasks.

Because such leaves are unexpected, your bereaved employee may have some unfinished business at work. You don’t want your employee to miss deadlines while he or she is mourning. Set up a buddy system to prevent workers from falling through the cracks.

Ensure that each employee has a friend who is well-versed in the work they do and can take up their responsibilities in their absence. Work will not come to a halt as a result of one of your employees being absent from the office.

#2. Arrange a one-on-one meeting with the employee once they return from bereavement leave.

It is critical to check in with your employees once they return from bereavement leave and have a sit-down talk with them.

As an HR professional, you want to understand what your employees need to get through these difficult times, whether it’s a schedule change at work, lowering their workload, or allowing them to work flexibly. Simply asking is a smart place to begin.

The loss of a loved one might also bring with it extra duties that your employee must manage. Having a chat with your employee can help you understand their issues and assist them in overcoming them.

Some organizations even require their employees to attend grief therapy sessions following a loss for them to process their feelings healthily and return to their daily routine.

#3. Ensure that your leave policy is communicated to the staff and easily accessible.

This may seem obvious, but HR policies can be difficult to find at times. Ensure that your staff is briefed about your bereavement policy and that new hires are given the specifics during their onboarding.

You may even make things easier for your employees by saving the bereavement policy and the leave request form on the company’s Google Drive and sharing them with the team.

#4. Create a template for the leave request that your staff must submit.

It is difficult to deal with the death of a loved one. You should not be concerned about informing your supervisor about it. By templatizing the request, you can make it easier for your staff to ask for bereavement leave.

#5. Provide employees with the option of working on a flexible schedule.

After a funeral, your employee may require more time away. In addition to their sadness, some employees may be burdened with more responsibilities as a result of the loss of a relative, or they may be required to travel a long distance for the burial.

You can put the employee at ease by allowing them to work from home. Allow your staff to work part-time, vary their work hours based on their duties, or even work remotely.

This is especially crucial if your employee has recently lost a spouse or parent, since they may have an additional household and familial responsibilities to deal with following the burial. The individual will be able to attend to their new responsibilities without having to worry about having a rigorous timetable at work if they have a flexible schedule.

#6. Extend the scope of your Employee Assistance Program to include grief counseling.

Some of the larger firms provide an employee assistance program (EAP) as a workplace benefit. The program is intended to give examinations as well as one-on-one counseling for mental health and substance misuse difficulties. It is often not limited to work-related themes, but rather includes the employee’s more personal worries. The program is usually entirely paid for by the business and is provided at no cost to the employee. Counseling is usually delivered by a third party in a private setting, rather than by a full-time employee of the organization.

If your firm already has an EAP or is intending to implement one, make sure it includes bereavement grief counseling among the services it provides. Remember to include the EAP information in your overall leave policy paper.

An Excellent Example of Bereavement Leave

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, spoke up on compassionate leave last year. She announced that employees can now take up to 20 days of paid leave if an immediate family member dies. Sandberg lost her spouse in 2015, so she knows firsthand the devastation that loss can cause.

According to Sandberg, who was quoted in an article for Personnel Today, “we need government policies that make it simpler for people to care for their children and elderly parents, and for families to mourn and heal after loss.”

“Companies that stand by their employees do the right and smart thing — it helps them accomplish their mission, live their values, and boost their bottom line by enhancing employee loyalty and performance.”

Facebook’s compassionate leave policy also allows employees to take up to ten days off to grieve the loss of an extended family member and six weeks off to care for a sick relative. Furthermore, the company has implemented three days of “family sick leave” to allow employees to care for a family member who is suffering from a short-term illness, such as a youngster with the flu.

How to Create and Implement a Bereavement Leave Policy

Any policy regarding bereavement leave should be documented in the employee handbook. It will ensure that colleagues who are faced with bereavement do not have to have difficult conversations and are aware of what to expect. Managers will also know if there is a bereavement policy in place. They will not have to make difficult judgments about giving leave.

Any bereavement leave policy should include some degree of flexibility, and managers should be able to handle requests for extended time off sympathetically. Employees will not all grieve in the same way, therefore there should be a variety of options available to help them cope with their circumstances and return to work as successfully as possible.

The goal is to customize the approach and work with grieving employees to develop the best plan for them. It should involve some paid time off, as well as the option of a gradual return with remote working or decreased hours.

Bereavement leave is often restricted by the employee’s relationship with the deceased, with direct family believed to be the qualifying condition for the full amount of bereavement leave. The death of a friend or even a pet, on the other hand, can be just as traumatic. This is a difficulty for employers who want to strike the correct balance, which is why there must be some flexibility for businesses to approach each instance individually.

Duration of Bereavement Leave In The UK

In the United Kingdom, compassionate leave is typically granted for 3-5 days for the death of an immediate family member (spouse, civil partner, partner, sibling, and children), 2-3 days for less close relationships (grandparents, grandchildren, step-parents), and 1 day for in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This isn’t very charitable, given that a death in the family may need travel, dealing with affairs, organizing a funeral, and attending the funeral itself.

Businesses must assess how stingy compassionate leave affects long-term commitment and production. Both the employee and the employer benefit from a balanced, helpful, and flexible approach.

Is Bereavement Leave Paid?

In some firms, bereavement leave is simply treated as a sick day, and so it is paid time off following the company’s overall policy. Others approach bereavement leave as PTO or vacation time, while still others treat it as a separate form of leave, granting an additional 3 to 5 days in the event of each death. In most circumstances, it is a paid leave, however, this is not always the case. Employees who desire to take a longer leave can use their prior paid leaves or take unpaid leave.

In general, unlike other types of time off such as PTO/sick days, most firms do not roll over bereavement leave from one year to the next. This is done to avoid employees accruing unused bereavement leave. However, in the case of several bereavement events, most employers allow employees to use the prescribed time off for each occasion.

Who Qualifies as an Immediate Family Member for Bereavement Leave?

Parents, in-laws, children, siblings, spouse, (unmarried) domestic partner, guardian, or grandmother are examples of the immediate family.

Some employers even allow employees to take a day off if they lose an aunt, uncle, cousin, or close friend. You should also consider giving your employee time off if their pet dies. Again, the best advice is to defer the specifics to the line manager, who will be able to make the best decision.

Is it necessary for employees to provide proof of death when applying for it?

No, in general, although it depends on your policy. Within your process document, you can include instructions requiring staff to show an obituary, funeral program, or death certificate. However, because the timelines will be constricted, you can simply request that your employee supply information about the deceased, such as their name, date of death, and the employee’s relationship to the deceased.

What if an employee requests more time off than is allowed by my company’s policy?
Some employees may seek additional bereavement leave days if they must travel to another location for the funeral, have extended religious ceremonies to attend or have funeral planning tasks to complete. You can always request that the employee take additional time off, paid or unpaid, to extend their time of grief and get their paperwork in order.
It is acceptable to allow HR or the line manager to handle this on a case-by-case basis while being flexible with the guidelines.

Should managers be encouraged to attend the funeral ceremonies of a deceased relative or an employee?

Attendance at the funeral is determined by the manager’s connection with the employee. Some employees may be moved that their management took the time to offer their respects, whereas others may prefer privacy.

If the manager has a close relationship with the employee in question, even paying a visit to the individual can be a thoughtful gesture. We do not propose having a policy on this issue and instead allowing each team member to make their own decision.

Bereavement Leave FAQ’s

Does bereavement use PTO?Does bereavement use PTO?

Bereavement leave is normally unpaid; however, certain employers who provide the benefit may compensate employees for lost time. Bereavement leave is typically between one and five days in length. For any additional time off, employees must take PTO or unpaid personal leave.

How many times a year can you use bereavement?

Many workplaces provide one or two weeks of general paid sick leave per year for bereavement. You may also be entitled to paid time off for bereavement sick leave.

What is paid bereavement?

Bereavement pay is the money an employee receives when he or she takes time off after a loved one dies.

Can an employer ask for proof of bereavement?

Businesses may ask employees to present proof of death (such as a death certificate or obituary) within thirty days of the start of bereavement leave. This regulation will apply to all California firms, regardless of size.

How many times a year can you use bereavement?

Many workplaces provide one or two weeks of general paid sick leave per year for bereavement. You may also be entitled to paid time off for bereavement sick leave.

Can I claim bereavement payment?

Bereavement Support Payment can only be claimed if your husband, wife, or civil partner died on or after April 6, 2020. Your husband, wife, or civil partner must have paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in a tax year. Died as a result of a workplace accident or disease induced by their work

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