Bereavement Guide for Employers: Fair Treatment of Workers ACAS

Bereavement Guide for Employers: managing bereavement at work

Research has found that around 33% of employees who had suffered the death of a family member or even co-worker had not been treated with compassion by their employer. 88% of employees felt all employers should have a caring policy which included paid bereavement leave.

As an aside, many employers do not have precautions in place to ensure their own business survives if it is a key employee or owner who dies or is unable to continue working.  See our Estate Planning information.

The ACAS Guide to Bereavement Guide for Employers is published in co-operation with Cruse Bereavement Care and many other organisations have contributed to it. As Brendan Barber said

“Grief from the death of a loved one can be an extremely sad and emotional experience for anyone. It can affect people in different ways in the workplace and managers should have the skills needed to handle it.

“Our guide aims to help employers manage this difficult situation with their employee in the immediate aftermath of bereavement as well as longer term.

“It includes advice for managers on how to get the balance right in order to be supportive, compassionate, flexible and practical towards employees who are dealing with bereavement.”

ACAS’ good practice Bereavement Guide for employers on managing death in the workplace includes:

  • Everyone reacts differently to bereavement and this should be understood and respected by both employers and colleagues.
  • It is good practice to involve trade unions or staff representative in developing a bereavement policy and making sure managers are trained appropriately.
  • A calm empathetic approach in all communications from managers will ensure employees feel supported and minimise their anxiety about returning to work.
  • Some employees may feel able to return to work very swiftly, whilst others may need more time. It all depends on the individual, the relationship and the circumstances of the death.
  • The employees reaction on returning to work may not be what they or others may expect. Things may well vary day by day, sometimes dramatically as something unexpectedly brings up feelings of grief or even remorse. Timescales are unpredictable.
  • Employers should consider the family unit and adopt a flexible approach, perhaps offering part-time or flexible hours to support the colleague and to minimise sick days as they settle into new or increased caring responsibilities.

Click the link to download a copy Acas’ Bereavement Guide for Employers.

Bereavement hub page.