Acas has released new guidance on how companies should manage bereavement at work.
It outlines the steps employers should take after one of their staff loses a loved one, with research by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) finding that 87 per cent of workers feel that companies should have a compassionate employment policy that includes paid bereavement leave. This underlines the strength of feeling over the issue.
But a third of employees who suffered the death of a loved one did not think they had been shown compassion. With one in ten people directly affected by bereavement, Acas feels it is time to look at best practices and see where they can be improved.
This will give food for thought for HR departments keen to look after the mental wellbeing of their staff.
Under the new guidance, employers are being asked to have a clear policy on the issue and make sure that managers, HR teams and selected staff are adequately trained. They should also consider that everyone reacts differently to bereavement.
A calm and empathetic approach is encouraged at all times for communications, while advice is also given on what to do if the death of a co-worker affects several members of staff.
Acas chair Sir Brendan Barber said the guide aims to help companies manage what is a difficult situation, both in the short and long term.
"It includes advice for managers on how to get the balance right in order to be supportive, compassionate, flexible and practical towards employees who are dealing with bereavement," he added.
Claire Henry, chief executive of the NCPC, welcomed the new guidance, as she thinks employers are ideally placed to make a "massive difference" to workers during this difficult time.
She added there are various options open to companies, including offering the member of staff time off, flexible working or simply having sensitive conversations and offering support.
The full guidance from Acas can be viewed here.