Grief impacts on the emotional, physical, spiritual and psychological well-being of the person who is bereaved. Research indicates that at any time, one in ten employees is likely to be affected by bereavement.
Earlier this year, research by ComRes for the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) found that a third of employees who suffered bereavement in the past five years felt they had not been treated with compassion by their employer; while 87% of those surveyed believed all employers should have a compassionate employment policy that included paid bereavement leave.
Bereavement in the workplace can be challenging to manage: employees may need to take time off unexpectedly; find their performance is impacted, or be temporarily unable to perform certain roles.
However, a compassionate and supportive approach demonstrates that the organisation values its employees, helps build commitment, reduce sickness absence, and retain the workforce.
Acas’ new guide, ‘Managing bereavement in the workplace – a good practice guide’, has been developed in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care and others to help employers manage this difficult situation through appropriate and sensitive discussions with their employee, both in the immediate aftermath of bereavement and in the longer term.
Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber said: “Grief from the death of a loved one can be an extremely sad and emotional experience for anyone. It can affect people in different ways in the workplace and managers should have the skills needed to handle it.
“Our guide aims to help employers manage this difficult situation with their employee in the immediate aftermath of bereavement as well as longer term.
“It includes advice for managers on how to get the balance right in order to be supportive, compassionate, flexible and practical towards employees who are dealing with bereavement.”
Claire Henry, Chief Executive of NCPC – which also fed into the guidance – added: “We are delighted to welcome this important new ACAS guidance which we fed into, and believe it should become required reading for all employers, supported by training for all line managers in talking about sensitive issues such as bereavement.
“Whether it’s through providing time off or flexible working for employees who have been bereaved or sensitive conversations and offers of support, employers can make a massive difference. With the number of people dying each year set to increase there’s never been a more important time to get bereavement support right, both in the workplace and throughout society.”