National bereavement charity Sue Ryder, which runs Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, has called on the Government to introduce a minimum of two weeks statutory paid bereavement leave for all UK employees grieving the loss of a close relative or partner. Over the last few years through my work as part of organising Dying Matters Week I’ve seen the need for a better approach to bereavement. I’m backing their campaign.
An extract from their press release is below:
Currently, in the UK there is no legal requirement for employers to grant bereavement leave, except for parents who have lost a child under 18 years old. It is otherwise entirely at the employer’s discretion.
Sue Ryder research conducted in October found that in the past 12 months, 7.9 million people in employment (24% of all employees1) experienced a bereavement. Economic research conducted by Sue Ryder has found that grief experienced by employees who have lost a loved one costs the UK economy £23bn a year and costs HM Treasury nearly £8bn a year; through reduced tax revenues and increased use of NHS and social care resources.
Furthermore research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that only 54% of employees2 say that their organisation has a bereavement policy or any bereavement support in place. Consequently, almost half of all employees are unable to take a single day to grieve the loss of a partner or relative, without fearing implications for their job security.
Councillor Rachel Eden, is one of the people backing Sue Ryder’s campaign. She said: “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us all of the urgent need to better support people who are dealing with grief. Introducing a statutory right to two weeks paid bereavement leave would be a significant step forward. This would mean that people who are in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death do not need to worry about work.
“Too often people feel obliged to return to work straight after the death of someone close to them, when they simply weren’t ready, which causes more problems in the long term. We know how much the Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice supports people locally with end of life; it would be great if the government would make this simple change to help those who are grieving.”
Heidi Travis, Chief Executive at Sue Ryder, said: “Coronavirus has already led to an increase in bereavement across the UK, devastating thousands of families. At this time of national crisis, introducing a more compassionate approach to bereavement leave is paramount.
“We are urging the Government to reconsider its stance and introduce two weeks statutory paid bereavement leave when a person is grieving the loss of a close relative or partner. Not only would this improve how, as a society, we approach an issue that will affect almost all of us, but it would also address the financial impact of unresolved grief.”
Sue Ryder is running an online petition calling on the Government to introduce statutory bereavement leave. To add your voice, visit: www.sueryder.org/bereavementleave