Bereavement leave: what are you entitled to?

man sitting on sofa with his hand on his face, he looks sad as he is grieving

When you’ve suffered a loss you’ll need time to grieve, to be with family and possibly arrange the funeral. So if you usually work full or part time it’s worth knowing what time off you’re entitled to. To help make things clearer we’ll take you through the rules of bereavement leave in the UK.

When can you take bereavement leave?

In the UK, you have the right to time off work when a dependant dies. A dependant means:

How long is bereavement leave?

In the UK there are no set guidelines about how much time you can take off after the death of a dependant. It’s actually up to your employer. They’ll usually put this info in a bereavement leave policy. This could be written into your employee contract or handbook so it’s worth checking there first. Or speak to your employer if you’re unsure.

Most employers will give you some level of compassionate leave for a bereavement. Typically, it’ll be around 2-5 days. But it’ll vary from company to company. And it’ll also depend on your relationship to the person who’s passed away.

Do employers have to give bereavement leave?

No, it’s not a legal requirement. But the Employment Rights Act 1999 does give you the right to time off work to deal with an emergency. This includes the death of a dependant.

Can an employer refuse bereavement leave?

In principle they can refuse to give you any bereavement leave. But all employers should be considerate of an individual’s personal circumstances and allow a reasonable amount of leave.

If your employer refuses to give you bereavement leave, you can request time off in the form of unpaid leave, annual leave or an agreement with your employer to work back the time. If this request is refused by your employer you may want to seek further advice. The independent advisors at ACAS have a helpline where you can talk through your options.

What bereavement leave do you get if you’ve lost a child?

If you lose a child you’re entitled to 2 weeks off. This is called parental bereavement leave. It applies if:

During this time parents are entitled to something called Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP) from the government. You can find out more about that here: Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP).

When a child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, the birth parent is entitled to up to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave or pay. And the father or partner can receive up to 2 weeks paternity leave or pay.

Do you get paid for bereavement leave?

Is bereavement leave paid or unpaid? This is actually down to your employer. Your pay while on leave will come down to your company’s bereavement policy and what’s in your employee contract. Your employer might pay you for your time off or offer partial pay (depending on how long you are off for). But they don’t have to. It can also depend on the relationship between you and the person who’s passed away.

If an employer won’t pay you for your time off you might be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This may apply to you if your doctor says you are ‘unfit for work’ due to the bereavement.

The gov.uk website says that:

“Bereavement is not an incapacity, but the relationship between your employee and the deceased, e.g., as a parent or partner, could mean that your employee may well be ill. They may be suffering from shock due to the nature of death or depression/anxiety through loss. Take into account the employee’s circumstances and decide whether to accept this as the reason for incapacity. SSP is only payable if you decide that the reason is acceptable.”

Can I use bereavement leave for a funeral?

You’re entitled to time off to attend a funeral if the person who passed away was your dependant. If they weren’t a dependant then you may not be entitled to bereavement leave or compassionate leave. But your employer may offer you the time off. In this case they aren’t legally required to pay you for the time off. But check this with your employer. It depends on their bereavement leave policy and ultimately what they think is reasonable.

Do I need proof for bereavement leave?

This will depend on your company’s bereavement leave policy or what they think is reasonable. If your employer requires proof they should make it as easy as possible for you. They could ask for a funeral notice or simply ask for the details of the person who passed away. They’ll understand that it’s an uncomfortable situation. And it’s not your first priority. So if you do have to give them proof then they may ask you to do this on your return to work.

Your employer should be understanding of your situation. So don’t worry too much about organising bereavement leave. Your employer is likely to have policies in place to allow for difficult times like these. After all it’s in their best interests to make sure you’re coping.

 

If you need any more advice about organising bereavement leave ACAS has resources you can use.  And if you’re still unsure speak to one of their experts via their helpline.

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The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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  • Memorial headstone
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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