An Overview of UK Compassionate Leave (Time Off for Dependants)


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Compassionate leave is not something anyone wants to have to take, but in the times when it’s needed it’s an important policy for a business to have. We all have things in our lives which can happen suddenly, and the need to take a bit of time from work (without the risk of losing your job) can occur.

As a business it is time to take a moment to set up your compassionate leave policy to make sure it’s ready in the event one of your team needs it.

What is compassionate leave?

It’s a legal entitlement here in the UK to take time off after a dependent dies as per statutory leave regulations, however, it is not required to be paid time off.

Compassionate leave can also be referred to as ‘time off for dependents’ when it comes to caring for a loved one.

How much compassionate leave are employees entitled to?

Employees are entitled to a ‘reasonable amount of time’ however there is not set guidelines, and many companies will base it on who the employee has lost. For example, for the death of a child or spouse then an employee might be offered more time off, however for a grandparent or friend then they might only offer time for a funeral. It is all dependent on the unique circumstances, and the policy that your organisation has so it is always best to speak with HR (Human Resources) to work out what compassionate leave you are entitled to should you need to take it.

Is compassionate leave paid?

This again is at the organisation’s discretion, they can offer paid compassionate leave or they can choose to offer the time as unpaid. It might be that if your organisation chooses to offer a set amount as paid then any additional leave can be unpaid. Some employers might also offer the option to use annual leave in replacement of unpaid time off should the employee prefer.

What is parental bereavement leave?

Parental bereavement leave is a type of UK compassionate leave which occurs when parents deal with the death of a child, if they die under 18 or after 24 weeks of pregnancy. In these circumstances, parents are entitled to two weeks of both leave and pay.

If it comes to a time when you need bereavement or compassionate leave it is always best to speak with your manager and HR team to see what they can provide.


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Chloe Walker
Chloe is Head of Marketing at the PSSG, leading the team across all our brands with her highly analytical, strategic and creative skill set. Outside of work, she loves spending time outdoors, running and cycling!