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Report calls for better treatment of bereaved employees

9 January 2014

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Employers are failing to treat bereaved employees with compassion, a report  published today has claimed. 

Released by the National Council on Palliative Care, Dying Matters and the National Bereavement Alliance, the report reveals that a third of people (32%) who were bereaved in the last five years whilst in a job do not feel that their employer treated them with compassion.

The ComRes research also found that more than half (56%) of people said they would consider leaving their job if their employer did not provide proper support if someone close to them died.

And more than four in five people (87%) agreed all employers should have a compassionate employment policy, including paid bereavement leave, flexible working and a range of other support.

The report calls on all employers to ensure they have an updated bereavement policy, which sets out what support employees who have been bereaved are entitled to. 

In response to the report’s findings, the Dying Matters Coalition, which aims to raise awareness about the importance of talking more openly about dying, death and bereavement, has today announced the launch of ‘Compassionate employers’. This is a new national initiative aimed at supporting businesses who want to improve their approach to end of life issues, including through improved support for people who have been bereaved, support for carers and training for managers and staff.

Speaking today, Eve Richardson, chief executive of the National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters Coalition said: “Employers have an important role to play by being compassionate and having a bereavement policy in place. They should also ensure that they support their managers so that they are confident in having sensitive discussions about end of life issues with their staff.

“It is also often the little things that matter and help make a difference, such as kind words from a manager or a card to say we are thinking of you. With the number of people dying each year set to increase there’s never been a more important time to get bereavement support right, both in the workplace and throughout society.”

As well as making recommendations around improving bereavement support in the workplace, the report calls for improved training to support all staff who come into regular contact with people who have been recently bereaved.