More than half of employees are not supported at work following a death

More than half of bereaved employees have said that their company has no policy in place and thus are not being supported at work both immediately following a death or beforehand.

According to research from CPJ Field funeral directors, 57 per cent of bereaved employees state that their employers has no policy in place, and so have not defined the support they can offer nor made staff aware they offer any.

Just over a fifth (22 per cent) were offered more flexible hours when supporting a close relative through a life-threatening illness or injury, with another 22 per cent being allowed to take short notice holiday and 17 per cent being allowed to work from home.

Over a tenth (15 per cent) of employees are given extra support from their team and 8 per cent given a break from customer-facing roles.

Just under a third (32 per cent) told their colleagues straight away when someone they knew well feel seriously ill, with 19 per cent waiting until after the person they knew had passed away.

The study also found that 34 per cent of employees are likely to leave a job after a significant bereavement, with this figure rising to 55 per cent for 18-34-year old staff. Being seen differently professionally & personally (45 per cent) was the top reason for wanting to leave, followed by not seeing themselves progressing because others were worried about putting them under pressure at 27 per cent.

Jeremy Field, managing director of CPJ Field, said:

Bereavement policies are as essential as maternity and mental health, but setting out people’s rights in terms of employment is not enough. A successful return to work after bereavement takes careful handling as the employee faces the almost impossible task of returning to life without their loved one in it. Work has a big role to play in finding this new normal, so everyone within a workforce needs guidance in how to support colleagues through bereavement.

Death is one of life’s great taboos and without knowing what to say, the temptation can be to say nothing at all and this is often worse. As our research shows, being seen differently at work is the biggest driver for employees wanting to leave work after a bereavement. Employers of all sizes need practical resources on how to support grieving colleagues to protect their people during this vulnerable time.

Steven Wibberley, Chief Operating Officer at Cruse Bereavement Care, a UK bereavement charity said:

Time and time again we hear from people on our National Helpline that they feel unsupported by their employers after the death of a loved one. This can often cause further distress at a very difficult and challenging time.

It is vital organisations have a bereavement policy in place to ensure employees feel supported when they go on bereavement leave and are treated with empathy when they return to work. We work closely with businesses to help put policies in place to provide the best outcomes for both the employer and employees.

In order to gather these results CPJ Field asked 2,000 recently bereaved UK employees.