Bereavement policies for employers: Supporting your people after the death of someone close

16 March 2023

Does your workplace have a bereavement policy in place?

Bereavement is likely to affect most of us at some point during our working lives, especially as the working population is getting older. But how does your workplace support your people after the death of someone close?

With no legal obligation to grant compassionate leave, many employers don’t have formal procedures in place for employees following a bereavement.

Did you know?

According to research by Marie Curie (Respecting & supporting grief at work):

  • Only 1 in 3 companies have a bereavement policy in place, with policies often out-of-date and not reflective of what happens in practice in their workplace.
  • 58% of employees felt their performance at work was affected for months after the death of a loved one, with 43% of employee respondents feeling pressured to return to work before they were ready.
  • 31% of line managers stated that they’d welcome help in supporting bereaved colleagues.
  • More than half of employees would consider leaving their employer if they were treated badly following a bereavement (NCPC Dying Matters (2015) Life after death bereavement report)

What are employees legally entitled to?

Since 6 April 2020, employees with at least 6 months’ continuous service have been legally entitled to 2 weeks’ Parental Bereavement Leave, and statutory bereavement pay, where a child dies under the age of 18 or if a child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

And, under the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees in England, Wales and Scotland are entitled to “a reasonable amount of time off during the employee’s working hours in order to take action which is necessary in consequence of the death of a dependant”, enabling employees to attend to death administration and other arrangements following a death.

There is no minimum, or maximum, amount of leave specified by UK law to be granted to employees.

What is a bereavement policy & what should it contain?

Bereavement policies set out how an employer will support a bereaved employee, putting in place agreed procedures and measures to avoid the need for difficult conversations around compassionate leave and other matters at what is likely to be a challenging time.

Following a bereavement of someone close, an employee is likely to need time off to deal with practical matters such as handling death administration, notifying family and friends and planning the funeral, as well as processing their own grief and perhaps supporting others with theirs.

A bereavement policy ensures that those who need it are able to take time off, whilst supporting line managers in understanding what steps they need to take.

Consider including the following in a bereavement policy for your workplace:

  • Time off entitlement for compassionate leave – this may vary depending on the person who’s died and the employee’s relationship to them
  • Whether time off is paid or unpaid
  • Whether time off should be taken all together, or whether time off can be split over a period
  • Support in returning to work, including any adjustments to role or responsibilities

Bereavement policy support & advice for employers from Adroit Legal Services & the National Bereavement Service

Adroit and our sister company, the National Bereavement Service, work alongside employers of all sizes to guide their development of bespoke bereavement policies and procedures, creating an essential source of support for hundreds of our clients’ employees.

Contact our team to explore grief and bereavement support tailored to your organisation, including:

  • Our Employers’ Bereavement guidance booklet, compiled by our professional bereavement advisers
  • Tailored bereavement policies
  • Professional grief and bereavement training for your people
  • Tailored benefits packages, including access to legal services, discounted Wills and access to the National Bereavement Service’s bereavement adviser experts

This article has been prepared by Adroit Legal Services and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

Practical bereavement support from the National Bereavement Service

The National Bereavement Service supports anyone who has experienced a bereavement, including sudden or traumatic bereavement, with practical and emotional information and advice from professional bereavement advisors with real, lived experience.

We help you to comply with legal requirements, signpost you to providers such as funeral directors and solicitors, and provide a listening ear that helps you through a very difficult time.

For personal, confidential, and practical help following a bereavement, or for advice when planning your future, call the NBS on 0800 0246 121 or visit

Trusted legal support for your people by Adroit Legal Services

Established in 2015, Adroit connects your people and your customer base to quality-assured, affordable and accessible legal services from trusted and experienced experts.

Legal specialists throughout the UK are tried and tested, delivering honest advice whatever stage of life you’re at to protect your interests, family and wellbeing.

Adroit’s panel of legal practitioners, including estate planning specialists, offers a free initial consultation and discounted rates to make legal services accessible to everyone that’s important to your organisation.

Contact Adroit Legal Services to find out how we help our clients to protect their peoples’ wellbeing with access to quality-assured, great value legal services.