Backing a change
Other charities calling for change include the likes of Cruse Bereavement Care, Hospice UK and the Royal College of Physicians. In addition, business leaders such as the UK Head of Siemens and senior MPs are also pledging for new support measures to be put in place.
Siemens’ Carl Ennis told the publication: “As the Government looks to 'build back better', we believe that introducing statutory bereavement leave for an immediate family member or partner is a clear example of a bold, compassionate and caring commitment to UK workers, particularly after the devastating year we had in 2020.”
Should employers offer extended leave?
As there is no legal right to paid bereavement leave other than for a death of a child, it is therefore down to an employer to decide whether they offer such support to staff members. Rebecca Thornley-Gibson, Partner at DMH Stallard, warned that if employers choose not to, they could in fact risk a dip in productivity as workers will be forced to use annual leave or take sickness.
Thornley-Gibson told HR Grapevine: “Employers who don’t provide bereavement leave are likely to see employees using annual leave, taking time off sick or becoming extremely unproductive as they struggle to cope with work demands and a personal crisis.”
If an employer chooses not to offer this form of leave, she explained that employees will need to refer to their workplace policies and rely on statutory unpaid leave provisions.
“If an employer does not have a bereavement or compassionate leave policy the employee will need to rely on the statutory unpaid leave provisions to take time off for emergencies, including death, involving a dependant,” Thornley-Gibson continued.
“That leave however is not expected to be more than two or three days and doesn’t meet the emotional needs that an employee will inevitably have when they lose someone close to them.”
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