The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) is calling on the Government for the right to bereavement leave and pay to be extended to all employees experiencing a close family bereavement.
The professional body for HR and people development has written an open letter to the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, asking the Government to extend “Jack’s Law” – a legal right to paid bereavement leave for working parents who lose a child under the age of 18 which was introduced in April this year – to apply to the loss of any close family member, regardless of age.
A spokesman for the CIPD said that the right to leave of absence should apply to all employees who suffer the loss of a parent, child, partner or sibling, whether by blood, adoption or through marriage or a partner.
Employees should have the right to two weeks’ leave or paid leave from work, the CIPD spokesman said.
The CIPD has also now launched new guidance – available here – for employers on compassionate and comprehensive bereavement support. It encourages employers to develop a bereavement policy, to empower managers to support employees, put in place flexible working practices to best support employee needs, and provide information to employees on workplace support for bereavement. A separate line manager guide is also available.
Aside from Jack’s Law, there is currently no legal requirement for employers to pay employees who take leave following the death of a close family member, and while employees have the right to ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with emergencies involving dependants, the law does not state how much time can be taken.
Claire McCartney, Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, said that losing a family member, partner or friend can have a “devastating” impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing and employees experiencing bereavement need to be treated with compassion and support in the workplace.
She said: “Most people have experienced bereavement at some point, and sadly in the UK tens of thousands of people have died as a result of COVID-19 this year.
“Many people will not have been able to say a proper goodbye to loved ones due to coronavirus, which will have been incredibly difficult. It is vital for organisations to properly support those who are experiencing grief and loss by developing policies that offer long-term support and to ensure that line managers are equipped to support bereaved employees.”
She said that grief is “neither linear nor predictable” so employers must also recognise individual circumstances.
Research from the CIPD found that just over half (54%) of employees said that they were aware of their employer having a policy or support in place for employees experiencing bereavement, while many were not.
The CIPD’s key recommendations for employers
|Bereavement policies and support should be holistic, long term and take into account individual circumstances|
|Employers should work to be knowledgeable about the law and bereavement, including parental bereavement leave and pay and emergency time off for family and dependants|
|Employers should address health and safety obligations in relation to bereavement and avoid discrimination and address the risk of bullying|
|An open culture of support helps people feel more comfortable raising any issues and asking for support|
|Communicate your approach and embed this culture of support|
|Develop a bereavement policy, covering aspects like reporting a bereavement, any leave and pay and returning to work|
|Educate and support people managers to show empathy and compassion|
|Provide training and support so they understand the organisation’s bereavement policy and support structure|
|Flexibility is key: build flexible responses and be open to ongoing flexible working provisions|
|Provide information on workplace support and signpost employees to external sources of information and support|