New ACAS Guidance

Sadly, we are all likely to be affected by a bereavement at some point in our lives. Everyone copes with that grief differently, and, for some, it can have a significant impact on their ability to work.

ACAS has recently released new guidance on the subject, 'Time off work for a bereavement'.

The guidance asks for employers to:

  • Be sensitive to what each person might need at the time.
  • Consider the person's physical and emotional wellbeing, including once they've returned to work.
  • Recognise that grief is not a linear process and affects everyone differently – there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it can affect people at different times following a death.

The guidance explains the statutory rights that a bereaved employee may use to have some time off, including dependant's leave, parental bereavement leave, maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave and paternity leave.

Where none of the above rights apply, and there is no contractual right to compassionate leave, the guide encourages employers to offer special paid time off or enable the use of sick leave or annual leave instead to cover the time off.

The guide has tips intended to develop "soft skills" for managers when responding to a grieving employee and includes useful case studies. The guide emphasises the importance of sympathetic communication and recommends that employers implement a bereavement policy.

It also warns of the risks of a potentially discriminatory response. For example, not allowing an employee to attend a religious ceremony after a death could be indirect discrimination.

You can read the ACAS guide here.

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If you have any more questions or would like more information regarding handling bereavement in the workplace, you can contact our Employment Team below.

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