The CIPD urges the government to introduce bereavement leave and pay for all employees who lose a close family member

22 July 2020

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has written to Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, to encourage the government to introduce a new legal right to leave and pay for any employees who experience a close family bereavement.

The oiutbreak of coronavirus has clearly highlighted how important it is for employers to take a compassionate stance on bereavement, and how crucial it is for businesses to understand how each different person will react differently to the death of a close family member. The CIPD confirms that a flexible and sensitive approach to bereavement from employers is essential, and has provided a guide to compassionate bereavement support.

The introduction of Jack’s Law at the turn of tax year 2020-21 prompted the CIPD’s call for an extension to bereavement pay, as it introduced a new legal right to paid bereavement leave for those meeting certain qualifying conditions, and a day one right to leave for parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Should the extension be actioned, it would mean that employees who lose any close family member, including a parent, child or sibling, whether by blood, adoption or through marriage / a partner, would be entitled to two weeks’ leave or paid leave from work. At present, there is no legal requirement for employers to pay employees who take time off following the death of a close family member. The law states that employees have the right to ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with emergencies involving dependants, but there is no definitive timeframe provided.

Senior Resourcing and Inclusion Adviser at the CIPD, Claire McCartney, said:

“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. 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. Grief is neither linear nor predictable so employers must also recognise individual circumstances.  

The introduction of Jack’s Law in April was an important step forward in recognising the need for parental bereavement leave and pay. We want to see this extended to all employees who are experiencing a bereavement of a close family member. Bereavement can have a significant impact on a person and their work and it is vital that employees are supported with appropriate time off at what is already an extremely difficult time - bereaved employees are highly unlikely to be able to perform well at work if they are forced to return too quickly.” 


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