Workers Should Get Two Weeks Paid Leave If A Loved One Dies, Charity Tells Ministers

The call comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 49,000 people in the UK.

The government must introduce statutory paid bereavement leave for workers in the UK, campaigners have urged.

Bereavement charity Sue Ryder said ministers must bring in new laws to give workers who lose a partner or close relative two weeks paid leave in the wake of their death.

Under current legislation, statutory bereavement pay is only available to eligible parents if their children die before they turn 18, or if a baby is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, employees have the right to “reasonable” time off if a dependent dies – but there is no legal right for this leave to be paid.

The call comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen more than 49,000 people in the UK die after testing positive for Covid-19.

The UK has the eight highest coronavirus death toll in the world.

Heidi Travis, the chief executive at Sue Ryder, said two weeks paid leave would “allow people a crucial period of time to start processing their grief”.

“For many people, grief can be debilitating and additional stressors, such as work, can feel overwhelming,” she said.

“Currently many employers offer three to five days compassionate leave, but lower-income workers in less secure jobs often don’t have access to any leave.”

Research from the charity suggests that grief among workers costs the UK economy £23bn a year.

It said that while investing in bereavement leave might have short-term initial costs, it would result in long-term savings due to reduced staff absences, increased productivity and a decreased reliance on health and benefits systems after bereavements.

But a spokesperson for the government instead urged employers to “display compassion” to their workers.

Family bereavement is an extremely personal and difficult issue which people deal with in different ways,” they said.

We urge employers to display compassion and flexibility towards employees facing this ordeal.

“The UK is the only country in the world to have introduced a right to time off specifically for the loss of a child.”


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