Compassionate / Bereavement Leave Policy & Procedure


The Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust acknowledges the personal nature of leave associated with sudden illness, care or bereavement.  Compassionate/ Bereavement leave is intended to support employees in the immediate period around such individual circumstances. However, the process dealing and responding to these situations is a natural reaction and adjustment to loss and change may take a significant time and will be personal to each individual. 

Compassionate leave is defined as ‘reasonable time off for extreme personal reasons during working hours’.  This Policy is not exhaustive but primarily aims to include bereavement leave, dependent care leave (or ‘time off for dependants’) and compassionate leave where time away from work is given to an employee who is dealing with a death, illness or emergency situation of a dependant. The Trust is committed to supporting employees in practical and reasonable ways.  

Paid compassionate / bereavement leave 

Employees of the Trust are entitled to take a reasonable amount of time off work to take necessary action in relation to the care of certain dependants. This Compassionate Leave Policy (also often referred to as Bereavement Leave Policy) gives employers like ourselves the option to offer additional leave, paid or unpaid, to deal with the serious illness or injury within their immediate family. 

This paid leave allows an employee time off to deal with their personal grief and related practical arrangements, primarily, but not limited to, when a family member dies.  The Trust acknowledges that bereavement impacts all individuals differently and the guidelines below are intended to show the minimum paid leave an employee is entitled to in different circumstances.  

We acknowledge that not all employees will need to take the full allowance, whilst some employees will need additional time, depending on their relationship with the person who has died and the circumstances of the death or emergency situation. Additional time off can include annual leave.  

Compassionate / Bereavement leave related to a dependant: 

5 working days (plus 1 day for the funeral) paid leave will be granted in the event of the death of a dependant.  A dependant could be a:  

  • spouse, partner or civil partner (including same sex partners) 
  • child  
  • parent  
  • step-parent  
  • sibling 

In the circumstances of a non-dependant, then 1 to 3 days [paid) leave may be granted on the death of someone who is not a child or dependant. These circumstances would include (but are not limited to) situations where the employee is responsible for funeral arrangements or has to travel abroad to attend the funeral. 

Giving notice for compassionate / bereavement leave 

An employee should notify their line manager of their need to take leave as soon as possible or, at the latest, on the first day of absence. An employee’s next of kin or family member can notify the employee’s line manager on their behalf. In exceptional circumstances, applications for leave will be considered after the first day of absence. Line managers have the right to exercise discretion in exceptional circumstances as outlined above. Leave days do not have to be taken consecutively. 

Additional time off:  

  • Annual leave – In the event of a bereavement, an employee will be able to take annual leave at short notice to supplement their leave situation. Requests should be directed to the employee’s line manager.  
  • Unpaid leave – Unpaid leave on compassionate grounds up to a maximum of 5 days may be granted after bereavement. An employee must consult with their line manager before starting unpaid leave. 

Parental bereavement leave 

Employees are entitled to 2 weeks Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave if their child dies under the age of 18 or is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

Employees can claim this leave if they are the: 

  • birth parent 
  • natural parent (the person who gave birth to the child who has since been adopted, but has a court order to allow them to continue having access to the child) 
  • adoptive parent, if the child was living with them 
  • person who lived with the child and had responsibility for them, for at least 4 weeks before they died 
  • ‘intended parent’ – due to become the legal parent through surrogacy 
  • partner of the child’s parent, if they live with the child and the child’s parent in an enduring family relationship 

Parental Bereavement Pay 

If an employee has been with the Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust for at least 26 weeks, they will be entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay if all of the following apply: 

  • their child dies under the age of 18 or is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • they were employed when their child died 
  • they earn on average at least the average weekly minimum amount set by the government 

To enable Community Trust to pay the employee for this time off, the employee must ask in writing (give ‘notice’) for Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay within 28 days of taking Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave, starting from the first day of the week they are claiming the payment for.  

Pregnancy Loss / Miscarriage leave 

The Sherburn in Elmet Community Trust offers a supportive work environment where people should feel able to discuss and disclose pregnancy and/or loss without fear of being disadvantaged or discriminated against.  We are an employer committed to supporting our employees through the distress of miscarriage, ensuring that employees going through what can be a very difficult or traumatic time to get the support and time off they need. 

If an employee or their partner has a miscarriage in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, the Community Trust recognises many people will consider this a bereavement. In these circumstances, provides 5 days leave to the employee, or 2 days leave to their partner. Time off will be paid at the usual pay rate.   

Up to 2 weeks’ sickness absence related to a miscarriage will be recorded as ‘pregnancy related sickness’. This absence will be kept separate to other types of sickness and the Community Trust will not count these absences towards any review or trigger points set out in the organisation’s absence policy. 

Return to work 

The Community Trust is committed to supporting people back to work by being responsive to their individual needs and showing flexibility wherever possible. It is also for us to show empathy and understanding towards our employees experiencing following a bereavement or pregnancy loss. 

In certain circumstances a full return to work may not be possible. For example, when the employee’s grief is likely to impact on their ability to perform their role, or where new child care arrangements have to be sourced or responsibility for the care of an elderly parent has transferred to the employee. In such instances the Community Trust will allow a phased return to work on a part-time or reduced hours’ basis where practicable. Alternative duties may also be considered. Any such arrangement would need to be agreed in advance by the line manager.  

Employee support 

An employee with any concerns about the grieving process impacting on their work performance should discuss this in confidence with either their line manager or the Trust Board member responsible for Human Resources matters. This is to ensure that the employee is supported in their return to the full range of duties and responsibilities that they had prior to the compassionate leave and that the employee’s duties and responsibilities are adjusted (as necessary). 

Health and safety 

Bereavement can have an impact on concentration, sleep and decision making. The health and safety assessment of the workplace will include consideration of the impact of bereavement on employees, their duties and responsibilities, and the context in which they are working. 

Any employee who is concerned about their ability to conduct their duties safely in the weeks following compassionate/bereavement leave are encouraged to discuss this with their line manager. 

Culture and diversity 

The Trust recognises that different cultures respond to death in significantly different ways. 

Line managers will check whether the employee’s religion, belief or culture requires them to observe any particular practices or make special arrangements which would require them being off work at a particular time. Employees should not assume that their line manager is aware of any such requirements and should draw this to their line manager’s attention as soon as possible. 

Line managers who are unsure of how to respond to a bereaved employee from a different culture should ask the bereaved employee or someone else from their cultural group about what is appropriate. 

This Policy was adopted at the meeting of Trustees held on 25th July 2022