Days off for death in family explained

Dealing with bereavement can be the hardest thing we ever have to do, but can you book days off for a death in the family? Well, the government have put some provisions into the law that allows workers the chance to look after dependants but these regulations don’t make sure that you’re paid for the time off and they aren’t directly attached to the death of a family member. So what can you reasonably expect from your employer?
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You’re allowed to take time off to deal with an emergency that involves a dependant. The government don’t limit dependants to children, so if you care for a spouse, partner, grandchild, parent, or anyone else who’s dependant on your care, you can expect to take time off work when problems occur. You can’t expect to be paid for it though. That part’s up to your employer, so check the terms and conditions in your contract of employment.

Death in family

Although there’s no law mandating time off when a member of your immediate family passes away, most employers offer a discretionary 3 days leave during this time. Employers can set up whatever bereavement policy they like but they have to apply it consistently from worker to worker. You should consult your employee handbook or ask your HR rep for more information on this subject.

Who’s in my “immediate” family?

This is a question you’ll need to ask as the definition changes from employer to employer. Some workers will find that only spouses, parents, siblings and children are classed as “immediate” family. Even this can lead to issues because some employers won’t class an unmarried partner as “family”.


Although 3 days leave can be expected when a close family member passes away, that’s doesn’t limit you when a friend or colleague passes on. In these circumstances, you can reasonably expect to take a day’s leave to attend the funeral.

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