Importance of Bereavement Leave in the Workplace

bereavement leave

Bereavement leave is an important issue in the workplace, as it affects both employees and companies. If a loved one passes away, workers must have time to process their loss and care for themselves. Having this time available will be of great benefit to both workers and companies. This is why you have to investigate the importance of having a bereavement policy in the organization. Specifically, to understand how it can contribute to the emotional well-being and productivity of the team.

In this article, we will analyze how bereavement leave can help employees cope with the loss of a family member. Initially, there are two types of license, which are unpaid bereavement leave and Paid bereavement leave. It is essential to know the description of both in order to know which of both you can enjoy and you will see it below. Additionally, we are going to show you a guide on how bereavement leave policies can impact worker morale and organizational culture. Companies need to understand the need for grieving time for their employees.

Understanding Bereavement Leave

bereavement leave

Bereavement leave is an invaluable benefit for employees of any company. That is to say, its importance cannot be underestimated for many reasons.

It is common knowledge that the loss of a loved one generates overwhelming pain that causes negative consequences for people. For instance, it is a great emotional strain and significantly affects the mental and emotional well-being of an individual.

As a result, companies cannot fail to support employees in difficult times like this. In order to understand this a little better, you will see below a list of the factors why bereavement leave is important.

  • Provides time for mourning and emotional healing: Thanks to bereavement leave, employees have the opportunity to process their pain without having the stress of meeting additional demands.
  • Organization of funeral and memorial arrangements: After the death of a loved one, you have to go through certain funeral arrangements that require time and effort. With bereavement leave, employees can fulfill their obligations without worrying about work obligations.
  • Take care of mental health and well-being: Grief can affect mental health, if you take time off from work employees can prioritize their mental well-being.
  • Worker support and retention: By offering a bereavement leave you demonstrate support and compassion as a company towards employees. As a result, you will foster a supportive and positive work culture.

What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave is offered to any employee facing immediate consequences from the loss of a loved one.

The purpose of this is to help employees cope with the overwhelming grief of the death of a loved one. In addition, allowing them to make arrangements for funerals, commemorative events, or other similar aspects.

The reality is that bereavement leave is a good way to support employees in these difficult times. That is, recognizing the need to face grief after the death of a loved one and allowing them to deal with essential matters.

Policies for this type of license can vary depending on many factors. For example, industries, criteria of employers, and countries. The idea is to specify the conditions and benefits of having access to bereavement leave, among which we can mention:

  • Days or hours that employees can enjoy.
  • If it is a paid bereavement leave or an unpaid bereavement leave.
  • The criteria to be eligible for which you can take the bereavement leave. For example, the death of family members, immediate relatives, close friends, or even pets.

Bereavement Leave vs. Compassionate Leave

A compassionate leave and a bereavement leave are similar in specific ways. That is, both provide you with time off from work due to the death or serious illness of a family member or loved one.

However, they do have some differences in how they are used and the eligibility criteria. Additionally, there are certain aspects that may vary depending on the organization and jurisdiction.

Initially, bereavement leave is generally the time off that employees can take after the death of an immediate family member. For instance, child, spouse, sibling, or parent.

The purpose of bereavement leave is to allow employees to go through a time of mourning. In addition, allowing you to make necessary arrangements and attend memorial services or funerals.

On the other hand, compassionate leave is a broader term. That is, it covers free time for any compassionate reason. For instance, serious illness or injury of a family member or close relative.

Additionally, this leave can extend beyond the immediate family and include other important relationships. For example, a stable partner or a close friend.

In other words, compassionate leave recognizes that employees may need time to provide support, care, or make arrangements for the person in need.

Bereavement Leave in Saudi Arabia Law

In the labor legislation of the Saudi Arabia, you can find an explanation about bereavement leave. Specifically, five days of grief are available in the event of the death of a spouse. On the other hand, in the case of the death of one of the parents, grandchildren, siblings, children, or grandparents, this will be 3 days.

However, this may change depending on the employee’s employment contract in the Saudi Arabia. That is, you have to make sure that the employment contract establishes a clause regarding this situation. Additionally, you should check if there is the possibility of extending this type of license.

Types of Bereavement Leave

There are two types of bereavement leave, the first is paid and the second is unpaid. However, most companies provide payment that may be full or partial for those days off.

Paid Bereavement Leave

Initially, you need to know that there is no legal obligation for employers to provide paid bereavement leave to employees. However, employers may choose to do so as part of the benefits package or corporate social responsibility.

A bereavement leave can help employees cope with the financial stress of losing a loved one or dealing with a family crisis. Additionally, it can increase company loyalty and overall morale.

Unpaid Bereavement Leave

On the other hand, labor law in the Saudi Arabia requires unpaid bereavement leave. In essence, it establishes that employees can enjoy three days of unpaid leave per year in the event of the death of a first-degree relative. For instance, parent, child, or spouse.

However, they have one day of unpaid leave per year in the event of a second-degree death, that is, a grandparent, sibling, or grandchild.

Eligibility for Bereavement Leave

A bereavement leave in the United Arab Emirates is a type of leave for employees to be absent from work due to the death of a loved one. In addition, you have to know that the leave may or may not be paid, depending on the employer’s policy and the country’s legal regulations.

However, it is important to remember that you need a work visa if you are a foreigner and want to work in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and all of the United Arab Emirates.

If you want to opt for a bereavement leave, the eligibility criteria may vary depending on the employer’s policy. However, it also depends on the employee’s employment contract. Additionally, some guidelines that are common for companies in the Saudi Arabia are as follows:

  • Any employee has to inform his employer as soon as possible of the need for leave. Additionally, if the employer requires it, you must provide the necessary evidence.
  • Workers have to specify the reason and duration of the bereavement leave. This way, you can get approval from the employer to take those days.
  • You cannot take more days than the number of vacations agreed with the company. However, the possibility may exist depending on some exceptional situations.
  • Finally, employees cannot abuse bereavement leave or use it for purposes other than those intended.

1.       Leave for Spouse’s Death

In the case of leave due to the death of a spouse, you can take five days.

2.       Leave for a Close Family Member’s Death

If you request bereavement leave you will only have three days if other immediate family members die. That is, father, son, mother, brother, grandson or grandparents.

Requesting Bereavement Leave from Your Employer

Initially, it is essential to discuss the parameters of bereavement leave with the employer before taking the days off. Most companies support grieving workers and understand the need to take time off.

Additionally, you need to arrange your bereavement leave as soon as possible after the death of your loved one. This way, the company can respect your own emotions and your employer’s workflow.

  • Notify the employer as soon as possible: If you have a loved one with a delicate health situation, it is good to discuss it openly with the employer. This way, they will be prepared for the possibility of you taking bereavement leave in the near future.
  • Review your bereavement leave policy: Generally, companies with bereavement leave policies describe them in the employee handbook. That is why you have to consult the employee to determine the entire process to request it.
  • Determine how much time off you need: Initially, you need to consider your responsibilities, your mental health, and your finances when determining how much time off you want to take.
  • Make your request in writing: After discussing your need for bereavement leave with your supervisor and the human resources department, you must submit your request in writing.
  • Provide relevant forms and documentation: Some companies ask their employers for some documentation to support your request for bereavement leave.
  • Prepare some notes at the workplace: You have to make sure to leave some notes about your current tasks to help your colleagues manage your tasks while you are away.

Documentation Required for Bereavement Leave

A bereavement leave under Dubai Labor Law is a specific type of compassionate leave. Specifically, it allows employees to take time off work to grieve the death of a loved one.

If you want to apply for bereavement leave you have to meet some documentation requirements. Each of them may vary depending on the employer’s policy and the employee’s employment contract. However, some of the most common general guidelines are the following:

  • Provide a death certificate or other proof of death to the employer.
  • Workers must indicate the relationship between themselves and the deceased person. Additionally, some documents must be provided to provide the date of death.
  • Generally, employees cannot exceed the specific length of leave unless exceptional circumstances exist.
  • Finally, employees must request bereavement leave within a reasonable time after the death.

You have to know that bereavement leave in Dubai labor law is granted at unpredictable times. That is why you have to be aware of the regulations on this specific topic at the appropriate time.

Returning to Work After Bereavement Leave

Losing a close person can trigger an avalanche of emotions. For instance, you may feel anything from shock, anger, and disbelief to guilt, sadness, and despair.

Generally, emotions tend to rise as the enormity of your loss sinks in. Additionally, you may have times when you feel like you will never be able to have a normal life again.

For these moments, there are usually four stages of grief, to help you overcome the process and get back to work. That is, finding the balance of life again and returning to routine.

  • Accept the reality that the person is no longer here.
  • Beginning of overcoming grief.
  • Adapt to the new environment in which the person is no longer there.
  • Find a long-term connection with people as you begin the journey to a new life.

Additional Considerations for Bereavement Leave

Bereavement leave is a crucial policy that most organizations often adopt to support employees during their times of grief. Initially, it may seem disconnected from the field of accounting.

However, if you do your research there are several points of convergence where two seemingly different areas intersect.

  • Financial implications for business: Bereavement leave is essentially a humanitarian gesture, it can have direct and indirect financial implications for employers.
  • Budgetary provisions: It is essential that any company offering paid bereavement leave has to take this into account in annual budgets.
  • Productivity metrics: The consequences of a bereavement leave can produce a temporary drop in productivity. As a result, the company’s financial results will suffer the consequences. Especially the sales or production departments.
  • Employee Benefit Accounting: If bereavement leave is offered as a paid benefit, it becomes part of employee benefit accounting.
  • Tax Implications: Depending on the jurisdiction, if you offer bereavement leave benefits you may suffer tax implications.

Bereavement Leave beyond the Legal Minimum

Generally, the duration of a bereavement leave will depend significantly on the organization. However, most companies offer between a minimum of one day and a maximum of five days.

On the other hand, the duration may depend on some factors such as the closeness of the relationship. For instance, more days can be given in the event of the death of a spouse or child compared to a distant relative. Additionally, it depends on whether there are travel requirements or cultural practices to comply with.

It is important to note that some companies have more flexible policies, as a result, employees will take more time if necessary.

If there are situations where an employee may need more time than the policy allows. In these cases, it is important to approach this situation with understanding and compassion. At those times you can consider allowing them to take other forms of leave such as vacations or personal days.

If neither option is available, you can offer a temporary period of unpaid leave. Additionally, management may consider work-from-home arrangements or part-time work schedules during this difficult period.

Company Bereavement Leave Policies

Many companies do not have grieving leave policies. Furthermore, the reasons for this are usually very varied. Even the most loyal employee will not hesitate to take a few days off from work for the loss of a loved one leave.

Therefore, it is not the employee’s fault that the company does not have any contingency plan for an unexpected absence. Additionally, many companies have different types of leave policies, such as maternity leave.

Treating employees with contempt during these difficult times can be counterproductive. In this way, your employees will try to find a new company. Therefore, you should consider how to create a good bereavement leave policy.

The policies will depend on the size of the company and the job position of the employee who is grieving. This way, you can get paid leave if an immediate family member dies, which can last 1 to 2 weeks and even additional unpaid days.

Company Bereavement Leave Policies

Companies generally do not have bereavement leave policies, and the reasons for this vary widely. However, even the most faithful worker will not hesitate to take time away from work if they lose a loved one.

Furthermore, it is not an employee’s fault that the company cannot plan a contingency in these cases. Therefore, treating them with contempt may cause them to want to change companies as soon as possible.

It is important that the company shows employee bereavement support and that is why it is important to have good bereavement leave policies.

An example is companies that offer 20 days of paid leave if an immediate family member dies. Additionally, they can provide additional unpaid days if the employee needs it.

However, it is important to take into account the size of the company and the position of the employee who will be absent this time.

Crafting a Bereavement Leave Policy

Just like creating emergency leave policies, creating a bereavement leave policy is important for all businesses. In this way, you can help make the bereavement leave process easier for both the employee and the employer. For this reason, consider these steps:

  • Decide the amount of time and what pay will be assigned to employees: You must determine the time that affected employees can take and how much they will be paid. Therefore, you should consider all the factors involved before deciding this time.
  • Offer support: It is important that you show sympathy and understanding towards employees experiencing this loss. In this way, a good bereavement leave policy can help you establish trust and express your concern for your employees.
  • Make policies clear: This should be clearly explained how the employer and employee will handle this leave. To do this, you should describe the steps the employee must take, who to contact, the necessary arrangements, and whether they need to provide documentation related to the deceased person.
  • Create an official document: Once you have your grief policy, write it down. In this way, create a digital document that is included in the company manuals in both the printed version and the online version.

Common Bereavement Leave Lengths

Depending on the decisions and values ​​that the company has, 3 is usually the minimum paid time off that is common for most employers.

Additionally, many companies grant at least one paid day off for all other losses. These include family and friends.

However, as company culture continues to evolve, some companies are choosing to offer longer periods of bereavement leave. This way, employees can make long-term arrangements, especially for deaths that occur in another country or state.

Returning to Work after Bereavement

Many people need time off for bereavement and returning to work can be somewhat complicated. Plus, it is not as easy as returning to work after taking sick leave.

Therefore, emotions can increase for people as the enormity of their loss sinks in. Additionally, you may have moments when you think you will never return to your normal life.

Thus, if you are returning to work you should think about this:

  • Are you in the necessary conditions to return to work?
  • Do you want your colleagues not to mention your loss or do you prefer that they acknowledge it openly?
  • Talk to your bosses immediately before you return to work. This way you can agree on a plan for how you will be able to integrate into the workplace.
  • Consider how you will cope when reality hits.
  • Be prepared to respond when people close to you don’t know how to address you.
  • Do not push yourself to work long hours or take on demanding projects if you have just returned to work after your loss.
  • Do not fight alone and if you find it very difficult to cope, seek grief counseling. You can talk to your employer, or doctor, or seek professional help.

Support During Bereavement

Coping with grief can be an emotionally fragile and incredibly difficult time. For this reason, as an employer, it is essential that you provide a work environment that is flexible, open, and supportive to employees undergoing after-death leave.

It is important that you follow these practical tips so that you can help your employees during this difficult time:

  • Bereavement leave policy: Provides line managers and employees with guidance and reassurance about what to expect if they experience a loss.
  • Invite open conversations: It is helpful for employers to invite and encourage grieving employees to have open discussions and share how they are feeling.
  • Be empathetic: You need to be an empathetic superior to an employee who has suffered a bereavement. This way, you can start an open conversation and help the employee feel comfortable talking to a superior.
  • Offer time away from the workplace: All grief is different and no experiences are the same. Therefore, it is important that you initiate a dialogue that allows for an open discussion about what the person is facing and when they might be ready to return.
  • Manage the expectation when the worker returns to work: Grief can have a significant impact on the person and their work. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that they are over the pain and it should be noted that performance may be affected and should be taken into account.
  • Offer flexibility around work patterns: Newly bereaved People may need to take on a slightly different role or work different hours to reduce stress or deal with issues related to the loss.

Resources for Employees Dealing with Loss

After the death of a loved one, employees face a wide range of challenges beyond their own grief. Additionally, the demands on time, finances, and energy can be overwhelming, even necessitating a funeral leave.

For the first few days and weeks, it’s helpful to give managers the option of arranging meal delivery, childcare, or a cleaning service. Therefore, while the employee settles your loved one’s estate, consider offering him or her subsidies or professional referrals.

Therefore, providing professional resources can help them navigate this grieving process; as well as the financial and legal responsibilities they may be assuming. This way, easing their burden helps them return to the office with fewer distractions and stress.


bereavement leave

Even though the company establishes clear policies on bereavement leave, in these moments of grief many people do not think clearly. Therefore, it is important that you answer all your questions before going through this difficult time.

Below are a series of frequently asked questions that people ask regarding this license.

Is bereavement leave mandatory?

The Saudi Arabia labor law does not include anything regarding provisions for bereavement leave. However, it states that an employee is entitled to paid leave of at least 5 days if his or her spouse dies.

Furthermore, in the event of the death of a father, son, brother, grandson, or grandfather, the leave lasts approximately 3 days, in addition, this is subject to proving the death if the employer requests it.

How much bereavement leave is typically offered?

This amount of bereavement leave may vary depending on company policy and applicable policies in the region. Therefore, you should check with your human resources department or your company’s employee handbook.

Do I need documentation for bereavement leave?

In some companies, certain documentation is usually required. In this case, it can be an obituary or a death certificate. As a result, the need for bereavement leave can be substantiated.

For this reason, you may want to check your company policy to see if you need any documentation and the process for providing it.

Is bereavement leave paid?

Bereavement leave may or may not be paid depending on your company’s policies. In some cases, companies offer paid bereavement leave for a certain number of days.

On the other hand, there are companies that may require employees to use other types of paid time off, such as vacation or sick time, for bereavement purposes.

Does bereavement leave affect my job security?

This leave does not affect your job security in any way. Therefore, even if you apply for this leave, you will be able to maintain your job security and all of your benefits.

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