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Death is an inevitable part of life and will impact us all at some point. As an employer, understanding what your responsibilities are towards employees who have been bereaved is not only a moral and empathetic imperative, but also sound HR advice.

Finding a balance between protecting a business’ operational needs whilst respecting the wellbeing of the workforce is a balancing act at the best of times, but when emotions are running high and people are grieving, how exactly should an employer respond to safeguard the best interests of all concerned?

Tina Chander, Head of the Employment Law Team at Wright Hassall, commented: “Unless the bereavement involves the loss of a child, UK Employment Law doesn’t clearly define what the expectations are for employers dealing with issues surrounding an employee’s grief, but that does not remove the duty of care that all employers have towards their staff.

“What is and isn’t reasonable when it comes to managing compassionate leave resulting from bereavement is debateable, but what isn’t, is the legal right that an employee has to take ‘time’ off work to deal with emergencies relating to ‘dependents’, or their right to be protected from harassment or unfair treatment ensuing from their loss.”

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