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Compassionate leave

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Example policy: Compassionate leave

This is an example of an employment policy designed for a small not-for-profit employer adhering to statutory minimum requirements and does not constitute legal advice. As with all policies it should be consistent with your terms and conditions of employment as well as your culture and aspirations. Offering some paid compassionate leave is likely to assist your staff member through a difficult period and more likely to engender goodwill and better mental health at work. There is no one size fits all.

Download a version of this compassionate leave example policy (Word, 63KB)

Purpose and scope

The primary purpose of compassionate leave is to help employees to come to terms with the death of a loved one.

This policy is separate to dependant leave where you can take time off when unforeseen matters arise with the care for dependants. For full details please refer to the emergency leave policy.

Compassionate leave is separate to the time off available, under the statutory right to time off to deal with emergencies.


If a member of your immediate family dies, you should contact your manager and let them know as soon as possible. You should inform your manager that you need to take compassionate leave.

The amount of leave will depend on the circumstances. Your manager will consider your relationship with the deceased, domestic responsibilities and travel requirements, but will not normally grant more than five days' unpaid/paid leave.

If a close relative dies you may request unpaid/paid leave to attend the funeral. A close relative might be an aunt, uncle, cousin or parent-in-law, or a close friend.

Parental bereavement leave

Parental bereavement leave applies if your child or adopted child dies, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. In these circumstances you are entitled to two weeks' leave irrespective of your length of service. You will also qualify for two weeks' leave if you are the partner of a bereaved parent or you have day-to-day responsibility for the child.

Parental bereavement leave can be taken in one or two blocks of a week within 56 weeks of the bereavement. No notice is required if the leave is taken within 56 days of the bereavement, thereafter at least one week's notice must be given.

You will need to have worked for 26 weeks to receive Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay. You also need to earn more than the lower earnings limit in the eight weeks before your bereavement. Those without the required service may take unpaid leave.

Data protection

If you make a request to your manager, they will record the personal information required to deal with your request. The information will be stored in line with the data protection policy. See our guidance on data protection and cybersecurity. See our guidance on data protection and cybersecurity.

Download a version of this compassionate leave example policy (Word, 63KB)

Page last edited May 17, 2022

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