Dying Matters: Bereavement and Work

57% of employees will have experienced a bereavement in the last five years and every day 600 people quit their jobs in order to look after older / disabled / sick relatives. Yet despite this, 1 in 5 managers do not feel confident when it comes to supporting their employees through a bereavement.

Unfortunately there is no legal right for time off for dependants to be paid, though some employers may choose to offer paid leave depending on the individuals circumstances.

However, there is a law in place for parents who are bereaving the loss of a child, this is knows as Jacks Law.

Jacks Law came into play in April of 2020; therefore being a very new policy. This came ten years after the death of 23-month-old Jack Herd, whose mother campaigned tirelessly for this change for 8-years after his death, before it was granted by the government.

The new law allows up to 2-weeks of leave for anyone who meets the definition of a ‘parent’ who has lost a child under the age of 18 or experienced a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
These two weeks can be taken consecutively or as two separate weeks during the following 56-weeks after the death of their child.

Although this leave has no legal right to pay; some parents may be eligible for Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and individual employers may offer some sort of pay during this time depending on the individuals circumstances.

Other than this law, there is no legal right for bereavement leave of paid leave when losing a loved one.
This can have detrimental affects on an individuals mental health during the grieving process; which is already a very difficult time.

One particular company have been praised for the changes that they have made to their bereavement process over the last few years.
This company is Facebook! They announced back in 2016 that they were making changes to their bereavement policy in order to support their employees through their grief after losing a loved one. These changes included:

  • Up to 20 days paid leave after the death of an immediate family member.
  • Up to 10 days paid leave after the death of any extended family members.
  • Up to 6-weeks paid leave for employees who need to take time off to care for a sick relative.
  • Up to 3-days paid leave for ‘family sickness days’ – meaning to look after a family member with short-term illness (for example, taking care of children with the flu or a stomach bug!)

While grief cannot be measured, these changes are pivotal when it comes to the way in which bereavement is handled in the work place and we can only hope that other companies will follow in their footsteps.

Sadly, due to unpaid leave, many people who have experienced the loss of a loved one will not take any time away from work other than the day of the funeral.
This can be very unhealthy for the individual as it is not giving them time to process and feel the loss of their family member and instead they are forced to continue with their day-to-day life and challenges as if nothing is wrong.

On top of this, not many work places have management who are sufficiently trained in supporting their employees through the bereavement process. Making it hard for their employees to reach out to them if they are struggling.

If you need help processing the loss of a loved one, please do not hesitate to reach out, this can be to friends, family, colleagues, charities, your GP… anyone at all. It is okay to be struggling and it is okay to ask for help and support.


Dying Matters

ACAS: Working for Everyone

Facebooks New Bereavement Leave

Government: Jacks Law

Sky News: Jacks Law

Helpful Links:

Sue Ryder – Help with Bereavement

NHS – Help with Grief and Bereavement

Mind Charity: What is Bereavement

The Samaritans

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