Employees: what to do after a death
If someone close to you dies, you might need to take time off work unexpectedly.
Depending on the circumstances, you might:
- need time off immediately
- decide to continue to work
- take time off later on
If you need time off
It’s best to let your employer know as soon as you can if you need time off work.
You should try to follow your workplace’s usual process for telling them. If you feel unable to contact them, you could ask someone else to do it for you. For example, a family member or close friend.
What you should tell your employer
It’s a good idea to let your employer know:
- how you’d like to be in contact while you’re off, for example if phone or email is best, and how often you want to be in touch
- if you want others at work to know, and if they can contact you
- if you need any information or support from your manager or employer
It’s up to you how much you tell them about the death, and whether you want others at work to know.
It might be difficult to know how long you’ll need off work at first. Keeping in touch with your employer can help:
- update your employer
- plan your return to work when you’re ready
Leave and pay
Check your contract or workplace’s policy to see if your workplace offers leave or pay for bereavement.
Your workplace’s bereavement policy, should say:
- how much leave your workplace provides
- if it’s paid
- if it depends on your relationship to the person who died
If you’re not sure what you’re entitled to, check with your manager, employer or someone in HR.
If your employer does not offer leave for bereavement
By law, you might be entitled to time off if:
- the person who died is your 'dependant'
- your child was stillborn or died under the age of 18
If you're not well enough to work, you might get sick pay if you take sick leave.
You can talk to your employer about other options for taking time off, including holiday and unpaid leave.
Returning to work
It’s a good idea to talk to your employer before you return to work to discuss:
- when you think you’ll be ready to return
- anything you’re concerned about when you return
- if the death has changed anything that might affect your work, for example if you now have more caring responsibilities outside of work and want to discuss flexible working options
Help and support
If you need support at work, it can help to:
- talk to your manager to see what support or adjustments might be possible
- use your workplace’s employee assistance programme (EAP), if there’s one available
You can also get help and support from the following organisations:
- Cruse Bereavement Care give advice on coping with a death
- Dying Matters – a network of help people talk about dying, death and bereavement
If you're unhappy about how your employer has handled your bereavement
You can raise the problem with your employer. Find out how to raise a problem at work.