Taking Time off Work after a Death

July 10, 2023

Taking time off work after a death is a common and understandable need for many individuals. It’s important to prioritise your emotional well-being and allow yourself time to grieve and heal. Being at work may be a struggle for some as their concentration may start to wane and you may be distracted because of everything that is going on. Here are some steps and considerations to help you navigate taking time off work after a death.

Notify your employer

Reach out to the immediate supervisor or HR department as soon as possible to inform them of the situation. Explain the circumstances and let them know that you will need to take time off. They should be able to discuss all the options with you and agree on the length of time needed. 

Understand your company’s policies

Familiarise yourself with your company’s bereavement policy or any other relevant leave policies. Doing this will help you get a thorough understanding of your rights, the amount of time you are entitled to take off, and whether the leave is paid or unpaid. 

Communicate your needs

Discuss your needs with your employer or HR department. Be open and honest about the level of support you require during this difficult time and be open with how you are feeling. Your employers will appreciate the honesty and the more they understand how you are feeling, the more they can help and offer support. They may also be able to provide additional resources or accommodations to assist you. 

Take advantage of available leave options  

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for various types of leave, such as bereavement leave, compassionate leave, or personal leave. Research what options are available to you and ensure you comply with any necessary procedures for requesting and documenting your time off.

Plan your absence

If possible, provide your employer with an estimated duration for your leave of absence. Whilst it may be difficult to determine how long you will exactly need, it will be beneficial. It will help your employers plan for your absence and ensure the smooth continuation of your work during that time. If you are uncertain about the duration, communicate that as well and keep them updated. 

Seek support

It can be beneficial to seek support from friends, family, or professional resources such as therapists or counselors during this difficult time. They can provide guidance, an understanding, and help you process your emotions. If you feel comfortable, also let your colleagues know how you are feeling. Whilst you may not be close to them outside of work, it can be a great help having them understand what you are going through. They will be sympathetic and help you with your work and can help make the time off easier as they can help cover the work where needed.

Remember, everyone’s grieving process is unique, so it’s important to give yourself the necessary time and space to heal. Be patient with yourself to mourn in a way that feels right for you. The most important thing about taking time off work after a death is to communicate with your employers, be honest, and try and come to an arrangement that ensures you get the time off you need. Whilst long-term leave may not be possible, you mustn’t go back to work too early, especially if you think it will negatively impact your work.