The great American statesman Benjamin Franklin said that nothing is certain in this world apart from death and taxes. In the world of employment law, the employer always takes care of the employee in relation to the latter, but there are inevitably difficulties for staff who have to cope with the former.
Although there is a moral right to compassionate leave, there is no provision for it in legislation. In any event, employers do not necessarily give much flexibility in the way in which their compassion is exercised.
Everyone encounters bereavement. Some cope with it well, while others suffer prolonged reactions that affect their health, and consequently, their ability to carry out their work duties. Others express their grief through anger or withdrawal behaviour - both of which can undermine the structure of the workplace hierarchy and put the affected employee's employment future at risk.
The common feature of all bereaved employees is that, eventually, they will have to return to work, regardless of whether or not they are ready to do so.
To assist the needs of those in such circumstances, bereavement counselling is now widely available outside the workplace. Within it, the OH team is likely to be involved in similar processes for those who return to work after the death of a loved one to enable them to cope with the stresses of coming to terms with their loss while maintaining work standards.
In-house counselling given by OH personnel to enable the bereaved to resume relationships with work colleagues is an important facet in their recovery. Performance issues may have to be covered where returners are not psychologically fit to resume working in the same way as they did before the death of a loved one.
The aim of therapy is to maintain the health and well-being of the bereaved, as all too often, compassionate leave is extended by sickness absence on occasions when psychological illness develops.
Section 57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 sets out the legal provisions for time off for dependants, including time off required in consequence of the death of a dependant.
Many people in the world of OH are familiar with the right to take a reasonable amount of time off during the working hours to take action that is necessary under defined circumstances.
The right to take leave to deal with emergencies affecting dependants is qualified by the employee's require