Should employees be entitled to paid bereavement leave?
- Credit: Archant
Sue Ryder calls for statutory paid bereavement leave after research shows workplace grief costs the UK economy £23 billion per year.
The Hunts Post is supporting the charity as part of its We Need To Talk campaign to bring grief out of the shadows and open up a debate around all the issues of dyiing, death and bereavement.
According to economic research commissioned Sue Ryder’s, 7.9 million people in employment (24 per cent of all employees) experienced a bereavement in the last 12 months
Grief experienced by employees who have lost a loved one costs the UK economy £23 billion a year and costs HM Treasury nearly £8bn a year through reduced tax revenues and increased use of NHS and social care resources.
Most of the negative economic impact arises from grieving employees being unable to work at their normal levels of productivity while they deal with the mental, physical, and financial impacts of a bereavement.
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Sue Ryder is urging people to support its campaign on bereavement leave, and contact their local MP to ensure the Government includes statutory paid bereavement leave in the upcoming Employment Bill.
Sue Ryder is calling on the Government to introduce two weeks statutory paid bereavement leave for all UK employees for the loss of close relative or partner. 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.
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Heidi Travis, chief executive at Sue Ryder, said: “For many people, grief can be debilitating and additional stress factors, such as work, can feel overwhelming.
“Currently many employers offer three to five days compassionate leave, but lower income workers in less secure jobs often don’t have access to any leave.
“Sue Ryder is calling on the Government to introduce two weeks statutory paid bereavement leave when a person is grieving the loss of any close relative or partner. This will allow people a crucial period of time to start processing their grief.
“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 impacts of unresolved grief, and its cost to the economy.”
Sue Ryder research suggests that investing in adequate bereavement leave and support may result in initial short-term costs. However, this could lead to a significant saving for the UK economy and the treasury in the long-term, through reduced staff absence, higher employee productivity and less reliance on the health and benefits system post-bereavement.
As a result, the charity is now calling on the Government to introduce a statutory two weeks bereavement leave for the loss of a close relative or partner.
The grief that follows a bereavement may include difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. Intense grief can lead to loss of sleep and appetite, an inability to think clearly and in the most extreme cases, can lead to mental health conditions such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety and even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The research also shows that low income workers are at higher risk of experiencing long-term grief, not only because of the relatively higher impact of financial losses post-bereavement, but because they face more barriers in accessing appropriate services and information to help them cope with grief.
Anecdotal evidence has highlighted that the security of knowing paid leave is available, without the concerns of how the employee is being perceived or possibly penalised by an employer, can give people the time and space to come to terms with their loss.
Sue Ryder believes that introducing statutory paid bereavement leave to all UK employees, would alleviate at least some of the pressure people feel in the immediate aftermath of a bereavement and this would particularly benefit people in low income jobs.
INFO: Join the Sue Ryder ‘hand-raiser’ to raise awareness of the importance of statutory bereavement leave to the Government, at: www.actions.sueryder.org/a/workers-rights.