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, according to new research.
The findings show 19 per cent 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 per cent had to use holiday time when it was a family member while 8 per cent had to use their holidays when it was a friend.
Younger workers are the most likely to be made to use annual leave to cope with bereavement with 23 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 using their holidays compared to just 8 per cent in the 45 to 54 age group.
The study found employers need to take the issue seriously – nearly a third of employees say they would consider resigning if their employer was unsympathetic following a bereavement. Bereavement is highlighted to be a main contributor to the cause of stress.
The research found employers need to raise their game – 20 per cent of employees have witnessed unsympathetic behaviour from a boss, either to themselves or a colleague and just 46 per cent 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.”