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How to make a Bereavement leave policy

Create a bereavement leave policy to set out your business’ approach towards employee bereavements and bereavement leave.

Recently reviewed by Lauren Delin, Solicitor

This bereavement policy was last reviewed on 10 November 2021.

A bereavement leave policy is a document that sets out an employer’s approach towards bereavement leave (also known as ‘compassionate leave’). Ensure that your employees know how much leave (paid and unpaid) they can take when a loved one dies and how such leave can be taken.

Use this bereavement leave policy:

  • to inform employees about bereavement leave and pay

  • only for staff based in England, Wales or Scotland

This is not a parental bereavement leave policy. Ask a lawyer if you require a parental bereavement leave policy.

This bereavement leave policy covers:

  • aims of the policy

  • who is covered by the policy

  • paid bereavement leave

  • unpaid bereavement leave

  • annual leave

  • returning to work after bereavement leave

  • support offered

Employees are entitled to 'reasonable' time off work to deal with emergencies, including bereavement involving a dependant (eg a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone else who depends on the employee for care). What is considered a 'reasonable' time depends on the specific circumstances. Having in place a bereavement leave policy ensures that your employees know about their compassionate leave entitlement and helps you comply with your legal duty to provide such leave under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Bereavement leave is the time off granted to an employee when a loved one passes away. Anyone classed as an employee (ie not a worker or consultant) has the right to time off if a dependant dies. Dependants include spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, parents, children, and individuals who relied on the employee.

This policy covers paid bereavement leave for:

  • immediate relatives (ie spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, children, parents, step-parents, siblings and anyone with whom the employee is in a relationship of domestic dependency)

  • certain close relatives (ie grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law and children-in-law)

  • those outside their family in certain circumstances (eg where the employee is responsible for making funeral arrangements or has to travel abroad to attend the funeral)

This policy covers employees taking annual leave and/or unpaid bereavement leave (eg to supplement paid bereavement leave). 

If an employee experiences bereavement while on annual leave, they can change their annual leave into bereavement leave and take annual leave at a later date.

Bear in mind that in certain circumstances after the death of a loved one, a full return to work may not be immediately possible (eg because the employee’s grief may impact their ability to perform their duties or new child care arrangements need to be made). In such situations, you should (where practicable) consider a flexible return to work by, for example, allowing an employee to return to work on a part-time or reduced hours basis. Consider making any such arrangements in accordance with your Flexible working policy (if one exists).

For more information, read Bereavement leave.

Ask a lawyer for advice if:

  • this document doesn’t meet your specific needs

  • you have employees based outside England, Wales or Scotland

  • you require a parental bereavement leave policy

This bereavement leave policy is governed by the law of England, Wales and Scotland.

Other names for Bereavement leave policy

Bereavement policy, Compassionate leave policy, Compassionate policy, Bereavement statement, Compassionate statement, Bereavement and compassionate leave policy, Bereavement and compassionate statement.