Conciliation service Acas has published a new guide on managing bereavement in the workplace.
Developed in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care and bereavement leave campaigner Lucy Herd, the Acas guide is designed to help employers develop “more informed” policies around supporting staff after the loss of a loved one.
It quotes a report from the National Council for Palliative Care, which found that one-third of employees who had suffered a bereavement in the past five years felt they had not been treated with compassion by their employer.
The report also found that almost nine in 10 (87%) thought employers should have a compassionate employment policy, including paid bereavement leave, and that more than half would consider leaving their job if their employer did not provide adequate support.
Chair of Acas Sir 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.”
In its advice, Acas reminds employers that every individual will react differently to bereavement, but that a clear policy, coupled with training, will help managers and HR teams to have “compassionate and effective conversations with bereaved colleagues”.
It adds that it is good practice to involve trade unions or staff representatives in developing a bereavement policy.
When thinking about a return to work, some employees may feel able to come back quickly, but this will often depend on their relationship with the person who died and the circumstances around the death, said Acas.
To help ease the transition, employers could consider a flexible approach such as part-time hours or flexible working, particularly if the staff member must negotiate new caring responsibilities.