Time Off For a Funeral & Bereavement Leave – Your Rights at Work

If you’ve recently suffered a bereavement, you might be wondering how to approach taking time off for a funeral. It can be an upsetting time, and it’s important to know your rights to time off work so you can pay your respects.

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Your rights to time off work depend on your relationship to the person who has passed. Our guide will take a look at the circumstances in which you can take bereavement leave.


What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave is also known as compassionate leave. It refers to time taken off work by an employee to mourn the loss of a close relative, and attend the funeral.


Who is Entitled to Bereavement Leave?

Under employment law, an employee who has lost a dependant is entitled to bereavement leave. This might be their partner, child, parent, or anyone else who may rely upon them.

Time off for other bereavements would be at the discretion of the employer. There’s also no legal obligation for bereavement or compassionate leave to be offered as paid time off.


Parental Bereavement Leave

The exception to this is If an employee loses a child under the age of 18. In this situation there is a right to parental bereavement leave. This leave is paid at a statutory minimum rate of £151.97 or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). The minimum entitlement is for 2 weeks.


How Many Days Are You Entitled to for Bereavement or Compassionate Leave?

Unless you qualify for parental bereavement leave, the length of bereavement leave you are entitled to is not laid out within UK employment law. Guidelines say it should be “reasonable”.

If you’ve experienced a loss, you should check with your employer. Many of them allow 3 to 5 days for employees needing time off after a bereavement.


Can I Take Time Off Work For a Funeral?

You will be entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off work to attend a funeral if you have lost a close family member.

However, if you have lost a close friend or more distant family member there’s no statutory entitlement to time off. However, most employers tend to understand it is a difficult time, and are likely to accommodate your needs.


Can an Employer Deny Time Off For a Funeral?

Unless you need time off to attend the funeral of a close relative or dependant, your employer can deny time off for a funeral.

However, most reasonable employers would recognise the need to pay your respects and accommodate your wishes.

What About Compassionate Leave for a Grandparent’s Funeral?

Taking compassionate leave for a grandparent’s funeral is a common concern. Most people are very close to their grandparents and will be feeling the loss keenly.

However, unless a grandparent is classed as a dependant, there’s no statutory right to compassionate leave after they’ve passed away.

For a grandparent to be classed as a dependant they would have to:-

  • Rely upon you for help in the event of accident, illness, or injury.
  • Be living at the same address as you.
  • Rely upon you to make their care arrangements.

Understanding these criteria may help you consider how to phrase the conversation you have with your employer when requesting compassionate leave.


Check Your Employee Handbook

Although it may be the last thing you feel like doing, you should also consult your employee handbook.

Depending on the size of your company, there may be an official procedure for taking time off to attend funerals. This can make it easier when you go to speak to your boss or line manager.

If you have returned to work after bereavement but you are finding it hard to concentrate on your work, you may ask your workplace for some time off. If your mental health is suffering as a result of your loss, see your GP. They may sign you off work if you are struggling to cope day to day.

Mental health issues such as anxiety or depression are considered illnesses the same as many other conditions. You may have the right to some sick leave whilst you recover.


Further Reading

The Acas website offers easy to understand information about bereavement leave and time off for funerals.

FAQs

Do you have to take annual leave for a funeral?

Employers are not obligated to offer paid leave for bereavement. The exception is if you’ve suffered the loss of a child under the age of 18. This means you may have to use annual leave to attend a funeral.

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