Introduction to this document

Compassionate leave clause

Our compassionate leave clause goes beyond the statutory right to time off for dependants and focuses on the death or very serious illness of an immediate family member. Subject to statutory provisions, it’s really up to you to decide how much compassionate leave you want to provide and how long you want to pay for.

Statutory right

Under statutory provisions, employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to take action which is necessary to deal with certain emergency situations involving their dependants. The statutory right envisages that the amount of time off will be sufficient to enable the employee to cope with the crisis, or to make alternative longer-term arrangements for dependant care, but that no more than a day or two should be needed. It is intended to cover situations such as when a dependant falls ill, is injured, assaulted or dies or where there’s been an unexpected disruption to their care arrangements.  However, it’s not time off for grieving following a dependant’s death, nor is it time to sit at a sick dependant’s hospital bedside. Our Time Off for Dependants Policy already covers the statutory position. Employees who are the bereaved parents of a child under the age of 18 who has died (including a child stillborn after at least 24 weeks of pregnancy) may also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement leave and pay - see our Parental Bereavement Leave Policy.

Compassionate leave

In addition to the statutory rights, you may wish to consider exercising your discretion to grant compassionate leave in relation to a wider range of family members where the situation involves death or very serious illness. This is where our Compassionate Leave Clause comes in. We’ve provided that compassionate leave may be applied for in the case of the death or the very serious illness of immediate family members and we’ve allowed you to set a limit on the number of days of leave you will normally grant here. In exercising your discretion on the amount of time off to grant, bear in mind that each case will be different - an employee may only need one day to attend the funeral but alternatively the funeral might require travel or the employee might be responsible for arranging it and then more time will be needed. We’ve also defined immediate family members as spouses, civil partners, partners, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces but it’s really up to you how far you want to extend it. There’s no statutory obligation to pay employees for compassionate leave, so again it’s up to you to decide what you want to do. We’ve provided two options. The first is that any salary will only be paid at your absolute discretion. The second is that compassionate leave will normally be paid at basic pay rates but subject to a maximum number of days per year, with any further leave being unpaid. You can set your own limits. If an employee is entitled to statutory parental bereavement leave and you grant them an equivalent right to compassionate leave under the terms of our clause, they cannot exercise the two rights separately but they can exercise whichever right is more favourable in any given respect. Finally, be aware that different religions have different bereavement requirements, perhaps involving a funeral or cremation at short notice, and a failure to accommodate any such requirements where reasonably practicable could result in a claim of indirect religious discrimination contrary to the Equality Act 2010 unless your refusal can be objectively justified on business grounds.