Call for a free 15 minute consultation 0330 221 0684

Blog Arrow Employment Law

Compassionate Leave: A Guide for Businesses

Calendar February 16, 2021

Bereavement leave also known as compassionate leave is a period where the worker is off work because of a death of a family member or a loved one. This gives time to the worker to manage matters such as attending or even arranging a funeral.

If you are in need of legal advice or employment law legal advice, the team at KLG can help.

What is compassionate leave?

Bereavement time or compassionate leave is usually given for the death of an immediate family member however depending on the employers’ company policy, this can be extended to other members of the family.

At this moment, there are no UK laws that oblige employers to grant leave for death however most businesses do. Most employers allow three to five days for bereavement leave, the worker would need to refer to the staff handbook and contract in order to find this discretion.

How long is compassionate leave in the UK?

In the UK your employer is able to give you up to five days compassionate leave but the amount of time would depend on the situation. You would need to have a look at company policies and your contract of employment.

Parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer from a stillbirth at 24 weeks of pregnancy will have the right to two weeks’ leave under the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act. As this is recent legislation, this must have happened on or after 6th April 2020.

Do you get paid for compassionate leave?

There is no legal right to be paid time off for bereavement unless someone is eligible for parental bereavement pay when a child dies. Also, there may be some exceptions for agricultural employees. Many employers do choose to offer to pay for bereavement leave the amount that they offer would be up to them. The employer could agree for time off to be taken as:

  • Sick leave
  • Holiday
  • Unpaid leave

If denied any bereavement leave, you still have the right to take time off for emergencies under the Employment Rights Act 1996. There is no minimum amount for this but should be a ‘reasonable amount’.

Compassionate Leave Policy

Your employment rights are protected while on Parental Bereavement Leave. This includes your right to:

  • Pay rises
  • Build up (‘accrue’) holiday
  • Return to work

How can employers offer their support?

Everyone grieves in different ways and employers would need to be flexible in ways to support them. Employers can start off by expressing their sympathy and being sincere in the process.

Employers going out of their way to help their staff shows a level of responsibility and that you value your team members. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety amongst the team, and can avoid long term staff resignations.

Keeping in contact with employees while they are at home is also quite important, this can be through email or call to see if they can do anything.
In some religions, there are set times or certain bereavement customs, it is worth letting them know that the employer is happy to observe the traditions if required. Otherwise, the employer may face a discrimination claim.

When appropriate, the employer can ask when they would be able to return, if they return before they are not ready, it may harm the business. Therefore, having a good balance is key.

Once they have agreed to come back to work, the employer may ask when and make any reasonable adjustments. The employer would need to ensure they are kept an eye on as extra support may be required.

If you need assistance or guidance regarding your rights to bereavement leave, talk to one of our specialists. We offer employment law services Please call us on 0800 8321 554 for immediate help, or contact us via our website for more guidance from employment law specialists.


Do you need help? Request a consultation now.

KLG are always here to help. To arrange a free 15 minute introductory consultation call, where we can identify your needs and show you how we can support your business or you as an individual. Please complete our form.