Time off to Attend Funerals

George Heron

George Heron

Email Click to email
Phone 01952 566918

1 March 2017

Recent research from MetLifeUK indicates that, in the past two years, nearly one in 5 employees have had to use annual leave or take unpaid time off in order to attend the funeral of a family member or friend. What does the law say about bereavement leave? Is there an automatic right to have this time off and, if so, can it be unpaid?

It may surprise you to hear that there is no right to any paid time off to attend a funeral. There is a statutory right to take reasonable time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, and this may include attending a funeral, but the right is limited to unpaid time off. A dependant, for the purpose of this provision, is a spouse, partner, child or parent, someone who lives with the employee as part of their family or someone who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance. In cases that do not involve a dependant, there is actually no statutory right to take time off at all.

Nevertheless, most employers do allow paid or unpaid time off and it is important that the application of an employer’s policy in this regard is consistent and fair. To implement this, and to ensure that everybody knows where they stand, employers can put in place a Compassionate Leave Policy. For instance, the employer may wish to allow a set number of paid days off for certain, defined family members with other leave available at the discretion of the Company.

Taking a sympathetic, compassionate approach will pay dividends in terms of staff moral and retention as the research by MetLife found that nearly a third of employees would consider resigning if their employer was unsympathetic to them at such a time. Putting in place a policy which goes further than statute will therefore help to secure loyalty and commitment.  Such times are naturally distressing for the employee and a consistent approach which allows for some flexibility, given that close relationships are not always blood ties, is advisable.

At Alpha, we have a vast experience in providing bespoke, practical advice on HR and employment law issues including drafting staff handbooks which incorporate Compassionate Leave Policies. We are proud of our commercial outlook and do not sit on the fence. If you would like to have Alpha on your side, please feel free to contact us.


  • Martin Kaye

    Martin Kaye have provided advice in some highly complex HR matters and they continue to provide our day to day HR advice through their "ALPHA" HR scheme. They offer a very commercial and pragmatic approach and we have always been impressed by the level of service. The members of staff are approachable and easy to deal with.

    Eurofilms Extrusion Ltd

  • Martin Kaye

    Martin Kaye have provided us with employment and HR advice for several years and we have been very pleased with the level of service and quality of advice provided. We have no hesitation in recommending the team to any organisation which wishes to manage its employment related enquiries.

    D Wauchope, Company Secretary - McPhillips (Wellington) Ltd

  • Martin Kaye

    As a large employer of cleaning personnel, we require expert and prompt employment related advice. Martin Kaye's "ALPHA" service provides this in a clear and robust manner. We have been extremely impressed with the service and would thoroughly recommend them to any employer requiring expert HR & employment support.

    J Conry, Chairman - JPC Cleaning

  • Martin Kaye

    It is important for us to create a close relationship with our advisors. Martin Kaye's "ALPHA" HR service is excellent. It enables us to work closely with our lawyers particularly in the complex area of employment law.

    Johnny Hobeika, Operations Manager - Sanita (UK) Ltd

  • Martin Kaye

    ALPHA is an excellent, reliable, professional service which is an integrated part of our business that we could not do without.  This service is part of our structure and provides staff and business with the professional HR Support it requires - Invaluable

    Wendy Cox - Genvolt

Martin Kaye are rated 4 out of 5 based on 20 testimonials.