Coping with Work and a Bereavement
There is never a good time to have to cope with a bereavement and you will want the support of your employer as you try to deal with your loss. You may feel that you are letting people down at work but you need to take enough time off to recover and be able to function properly, otherwise there is no point being at work. Everyone has to go through this process at some point and people will be more understanding about your situation than you may expect.
Compassionate LeaveEmployers are required by law to give unpaid leave to deal with emergencies or losses of a dependent – this means partners, children or parents. They are not bound to give leave for bereavement that involves non-dependents but many will do so anyway. You need to check your contract to see what you agreed to. Again, they are not required to pay you if you take time off for bereavement but many reasonable bosses will continue to pay you in the short term.
Take Your TimeCoping with losing a loved one is not an easy thing to do and you need to take your time to come to terms with it. Although you may feel that you need to return to work, either to show that you can cope or to protect your job, you won’t be doing anyone any favours by returning too soon. You need to take your time to grieve and make sure you are strong enough to do your job properly.
Be HonestMany people who lose a loved one want to look like they are coping but are often crumbling on the inside. Trying to show that you are strong is not going to help you in the long run. It is also not going to help your employer if you return to work and break down with a client or in a meeting. Talk to your employer honestly about your situation and how you feel and explain that you are committed to your job but need to look after yourself.
Unsympathetic EmployersUnfortunately, while most employers will be understanding about your loss and be happy to offer you time off, some will not. If it is a dependent that you have lost then they are required by law to give you time off to grieve and if they don’t, or penalise you for doing so then you could take them to an employment tribunal. Your company may also have a policy about compassionate leave for non-dependents but if they don’t, unfortunately they don’t have to give you any time off.
Coping with a bereavement is difficult, emotional and makes you unable to function at your best. Most employer will give you unpaid compassionate leave and they are have to by law if it is a dependent who has passed away. Be honest about how you are coping and make sue that you take enough time off that you are fully ready to return to work and do a good job.