When your employee is bereaved

If you are an employer and one of your staff members is bereaved it can feel difficult to know how to help.

How to support your staff

Supporting your employee will help them, their family, and other colleagues within your organisation.

1. Prepare in advance

Ideally you will have a clear organisational bereavement policy and, where appropriate, trained staff. Our training and consultancy team can help with this. But there is a lot you can do even if you haven’t a clear policy.

2. Offer condolences

When you first hear that someone close to your employee has died, it’s important to tell them how sorry you are. Make sure that your employee doesn’t have to worry about work. If they take time off, find out how they would like you to stay in touch and respect their wishes. Ask how much information they would like you to share with other people at work, and whether they want others to get in touch.

3. Time off work

Follow your organisation’s policy on bereavement leave and wherever possible be generous. If your employee’s child dies under the age of 18 they will be eligible for statutory parental bereavement leave. At Cruse we see this very much as a minimum for such a difficult loss.

4. Stay in contact

If your employee is off work, stay in regular contact. When appropriate discuss with them when and how they return to work.

5. Know about the effects of grief

Grief affects people mentally and physically. When your employee returns to work (or if they don’t take time off) they may find it hard to concentrate. Pushing someone too hard can lead to them taking time off sick. Try to support the employee through this period. Agree realistic objectives together.

6. Be aware that grief takes time

Remember that everyone grieves differently and there is no timescale for feeling better. Some people may cope well in the days and weeks after someone dies but need support many months later.

For more information on managing bereavement in the workplace read the acas guidance on managing bereavement in the workplace – produced in consultation with Cruse Bereavement Support.