With less than 1 in 5 of managers feeling confident to support someone experiencing bereavement (Hospice UK) it leaves our colleagues, our teams and ourselves in a pretty uncomfortable situation.
If you are employed in the UK you are entitled to bereavement leave when someone close to you dies, but this is very much up to the discretion of the company as to how long you are allowed and expected to grieve. And as we all know, there is unfortunately no set time limit in which we feel ‘better’ and can jump right back into being productive members of our workplace.
As it’s your right to inform your employers when a life event happens, many of us are having to initiate difficult conversations in the workplace. This can be difficult enough with a compassionate employer, but so much harder when the work culture doesn’t do emotions, or doesn’t have anything in place to best support their staff and people are having to search for information.
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, most employees have the right to a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work to help with death admin, such as arranging a funeral, or looking after ‘dependents.’ And this is where language is important. A dependent or close relative is strictly defined and yet what if the person we love isn’t our spouse, child or parent? We are in the hands of our employers to act with their discretion and again, we may need to have a difficult conversation in the workplace when we least feel like it.
Some, but not all UK workplaces have a bereavement policy, which can at least remove some of the stress in understanding what you are entitled to. Common practice is leave of 3-5 days but is this ‘reasonable’ for you? Probably not.
At the time of writing the Co-op has just extended their bereavement leave to ten days, doubling the standard amount of time, which is a huge step in the right direction and offers clarity for their staff. But why are so many places of employment falling short? And what if you can’t face the workplace after your allotted time is up?
Many people end up taking annual leave to help support themselves with the transition back, which can lead to resentment and more stress as the inability to take an actual break becomes financially and time restrictive.
What if there was a better way! What if we began to normalise these life events, have clear guidance for our teams and made our workplaces a healthy and supportive place for our valued staff?
It all begins with a conversation and that’s why here at huunuu we embrace the need to positively impact the workplace. Our experiential life wellbeing sessions help all members of an organisation from the bottom up to have healthy conversations, that help everyone feel supported. One of our most popular sessions is how to have a conversation, and that’s both listening and talking!
Email: [email protected] to chat with us and let’s get our nation’s workplace’s talking.
We are proud supporters of the national Dying Matters Awareness Week run by Hospice UK. Check out their website here: https://www.hospiceuk.org/our-campaigns/dying-matters
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