Employers should ensure that employees requesting or taking bereavement leave should not suffer any disadvantage by doing so. The employee’s terms and conditions of employment (except for their pay) should continue as usual (eg holiday continues to accrue), and upon returning to work, the employee should return to the job they left.
If an employee requested to take bereavement leave or took bereavement leave and was dismissed because of this, they may bring a claim for unfair dismissal. In line with other family-related rights, an employee does not need 2 years’ service to bring such a claim.
Businesses should bear in mind that while 2 weeks’ leave is better than nothing, parents may need more time off to fully deal with their loss. As a result, employers should also try to be flexible and where possible, offer additional leave (whether paid or unpaid) and support to help grieving parents cope with their loss. A change to the employee’s working schedule, for example, to allow them to work remotely, may help employees feel supported in the workplace.
Businesses may wish to consider putting in place a bereavement leave policy, setting out information regarding bereavement leave. Ask a lawyer for more information.