Bereavement/compassionate leave

Information for line managers on dealing with bereavement/compassionate leave.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with:


Bereavement/compassionate leave is time away from work to be able to deal with the death of a close family member, and to arrange a funeral or carry out executorial duties. It is usually granted as paid leave outside of normal annual leave entitlement.

If a member of staff is dealing with a loss of a child under the age of 18, there is a separate parental bereavement leave policy.

Departments and colleagues are asked to be compassionate during these difficult times: every individual grieves differently and may need different types of support. 


Guidance for departments

This guidance talks about  ‘close family members’ but individual circumstances and definitions of ‘family’ will vary and departments have discretion to respond to each situation as appropriate.   

These guidelines have been drafted to ensure that the benefits provided, and the language used to describe the benefits and their scope, do not inadvertently restrict those whose culture is not that of the majority, or exclude those in same-sex relationships from benefiting.

Departments should ensure that, in implementing the guidance, they do not unjustifiably discriminate between employees on these or other grounds

When a member of staff informs you about the death of a close family member

Remember to offer your condolences and ask the individual what support they may need.

Let them know that they do not have to be at work if they are finding it difficult and encourage them to take the time they need. Set an expectation of how long they can take in the first instance (for example "why don't you take the rest of the week off and we can speak again on Monday"). But be mindful that some people prefer to keep to their normal routine.

If they need to be away for a few days ask them how they would like to stay in contact and make sure they have telephone or email contact details for someone in the department that they can contact.

Questions you should consider asking

  • Is anything you can do to support them?
  • Would they like you to inform their colleagues of the death, or do they prefer to keep the matter private?
  • How they would like to stay in contact ie by phone, email, text message?
  • How would they like you to respond if colleagues would like to send a card of condolence/flowers, etc?
  • Are they aware of the support services the University offers such as the staff counselling service?
  • Are there work matters that need to be dealt with in their absence?

Length of leave

Leave of absence of up to 5 working days (pro-rata for part-time) may be granted to deal with the death of a close family member, such as a partner or parent, and to arrange a funeral and/or carry out executorial duties. (If a member of staff is dealing with a loss of a child under the age of 18, there is a separate parental bereavement leave policy).

Sympathetic consideration should be given to the need for additional paid time away from work if an employee is coming to terms with a bereavement and departments may use their discretion according to the particular circumstances.

Some temporary flexible working might also be considered if requested to allow time to deal with administrative matters associated with the death such as attending the Registry office or meeting a funeral director.

If the employee's health is adversely affected by bereavement, they may wish to speak to their GP and a short period of sick leave might be more appropriate and should be discussed with the individual (the normal rules relating to provision of a Fit Note for more than 7 consecutive calendar days would apply).

If staff require extended time away from work, for example where long-distance travel is required, this can offered as annual leave or unpaid leave. The additional annual leave scheme may be provide some further leave options.

In exceptional circumstances departments may grant a further limited period of paid leave.

The University also offers up to one day's paid leave of absence to attend the funeral of a person with whom there has been a close personal relationship.


Bereavement/compassionate leave which is taken immediately following the death may need to be taken without giving notice, although the individual should let their department know as soon as possible. Where the individual wishes to take leave at a later point (eg for a funeral, or to deal with executorial duties) where possible they should give a week’s notice of the period they need to be away from work.

People XD and payroll actions

Bereavement/Compassionate Leave which has been granted as paid leave should be actioned in People XD as special paid leave (see Scenario Factsheet Special Leave).

Any additional leave that has been agreed beyond the period of bereavement/compassionate paid leave, for example as annual leave, unpaid leave or sickness absence should be actioned according to the normal arrangements for those types of leave within People XD, or other local record-keeping systems.




External resources