Nearly one in three employees would consider resigning if bosses are unsympathetic after bereavement


New research by MetLife has found that nearly one in five employees have been forced to use their annual leave entitlement or take unpaid leave to attend funerals of family members or friends. The findings show 19% of workers have been absent to attend funerals or cope with bereavement which was classed as unpaid leave or was deducted from their holidays over the past two years.


Around 11% had to use holiday time when it was a family member while 8% had to use their holidays when it was a friend. Younger workers appeared most likely to be made to use annual leave to cope with bereavement with 23% of those aged 18 to 24 using their holidays compared to just 8% in the 45 to 54 age group.


MetLife’s study found employers need to take the issue seriously – nearly a third (32%) of employees say they would consider resigning if their employer was unsympathetic following a bereavement.


Additionally, it also revealed employers need to raise their game, with 20% of employees having witnessed unsympathetic behaviour from a boss, either to themselves or a colleague and just 46% say employers have been sympathetic after bereavement has occurred.


Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director at MetLife UK said: “As anyone who has suffered from the bereavement of a close family member or friend can testify, it is a very difficult time. Despite this, a significant proportion of employers are making this tough time even harder when they really should be offering support to help staff through the grieving process.


“Employees are more likely to be loyal to a company that recognises they may need extra support during times of bereavement, whether this means offering dedicated bereavement counselling as part of a benefits package, or simply allowing for increased workplace flexibility. Companies that show a human face during a difficult time will be valued more than they probably realise.”


Advice for employees affected by bereavement appears to almost be a must have and a bereavement policy is essential to some extent, for organisations to ensure they are fully prepared should the unexpected happen.