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Compassionate Leave For a Funeral?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 21 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Compassionate Leave Dependant Employer


Am I entitled to time off for my father-in-law's funeral? I work full time. Colleagues have told me I am only entitled to compassionate leave if it is for immediate 'blood' family.

(MH, 3 February 2009)


Sorry to hear about the death of your father-in-law. These things can never come at a good time but it makes the situation easier to cope with if you have a supportive employer.

There is some legislation in place that allow employees to take unpaid time off for Compassionate Leave but unless they are a direct relative it can be uncertain whether you are entitled to it.

What your colleagues are referring to is ‘time off for dependants’, which is also counted as compassionate leave. A dependant is defined as someone who relies on you for their care or lives in your home with you. There is a grey area around elderly relatives but unless your father-in-law lived with you or you were responsible for his everyday care, he doesn’t strictly count as a dependant.

Most employers are reasonable about the need for compassionate leave and will allow you take a necessary amount of unpaid time off. After all, we cannot predict these things and everybody is faced with emergencies or deaths at some point in their working life.

However, unless the person is a dependant then they are not required to do so by law. The first thing to do is to check your Contract Of Employment as this should lay out your company’s policy on compassionate leave. If they say that compassionate leave is available, then they must stick to this promise when the situation arises.

If your contract doesn’t lay out the policy for compassionate leave, or it looks like your situation is not covered, then approach your employer. Tell them the situation and the time that you need to take off and hopefully, as long as it is a reasonable request, they will agree.

It is only compulsory to give employees time off for dependants but as your father-in-law is obviously a legitimate loss, your employer should be willing to offer compassionate leave. Unfortunately, unless it is written in your contract, there are no guarantees that leave will be granted but if not, then you can still use your holiday allowance to take days off as needed.

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My father inlaw passed last monday but 1 , funeral was Thursday last week, Boss didnt offer compassionate leave so I booked it as a holiday,boss would only approve the holiday is I aggreed to work the saturday b4 so I did , My missis struggles with mental health so I booked a weekend away for the day after the funeral leaving at 4pm when I finish work , my car broke down on the way to work but I managed to get it running and still get to work on time, I asked my boss could I finish at dinner to get the part to fix my car as the nearest part is 20 miles away and they wont deliver , boss said no go at 4pm ,I explained about the weekend away but he said that's not my fault you can stay till 4pm he then continued to say you have to work saturday but I said I did last Saturday but he wouldnt give in , I left work as I was fuming and didnt want to say anything rash, Anyway good job I did as the part was the wrong 1 as they do 3 different 1s so i then had to phone around car breakers and located 1 30 miles away so I went and got it , if I'd of worked till 4pm then drove 20 miles and found out the part was wrong I'd not of been able to find another 1 due to them closing at 5pm and I'd of missed takeing my missis away for the weekend, Now I think I've lost my job but no compassion from that boss 1 bit eh!
A Spear - 21-Sep-20 @ 7:33 AM
@Foxy - I think the problem is that some people will invariably take the......and a line has to be drawn somewhere. Most employers will let staff go to funerals of close relatives. But when an employee comes in to say great aunt Maud has died and 'we were so close' - then the employer has to make an executive decision. Would you believe that some people actually lie and fabriacte a death where no death has taken place, I know.....
ErIc - 4-Jun-18 @ 1:47 PM
I think it should be made law that one can attend a funeral for a member of a their family or friend. one should be able to say their final farewells without fear or repercussions from their employer. to be bann x from attending is morally wrong on every which way, the law must be changed to prevent such awful employers from being such -----_
Foxy - 2-Jun-18 @ 3:17 PM
My girlfriend miscarriage at 11 weeks am I allowed a day off for a funeral
Gayday - 23-Nov-16 @ 4:32 PM
NONE - 1-May-16 @ 6:28 PM
@Rgcts - I sugegst you give Acas a call on this as while probation can be long-lasting, the duration must not be unreasonable or discriminatory. You can contact Acas via the link here. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 8-May-15 @ 12:58 PM
Hi, was offered a ft job with a years probationary period, thought this was excessive but needed the work so accepted contract. Two weeks till years up & employer has just said they are extending the probation another 3 months! Is this allowed & legal? Been verbally told they are not satisfied with performance and received a couple of complaining emails from linemanager, but nothing has been officially put in writing & no formal supervisions have ever taken place. Advice appreciated please.
Rgcts - 7-May-15 @ 8:14 PM
@Log - you'd have to see whether there is a clause in your contract to allow these changes firstly. I also suggest you give Acas a call regarding the reduction in pay, via the link here. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 25-Mar-15 @ 11:23 AM
I work for a large well known company where we are required to do on call. Management are trying to introduce a new on call rota which would mean that we are on call for more hours than currently but want to pay us less than we are being paid currently. Can they do this?
Log - 22-Mar-15 @ 10:50 AM
I have worked for this company for 10 years I have a contract stating I work 15 hrs at say £10 per hour the senior partner retired and now the one who has taken over wants me still to work 15 hrs but reduce my rate to the same as other staff @£8.50 I refuse to accept this and will be calling acas on Monday is my only solution constructive dismissal ?
Maizeltree - 17-Jan-15 @ 7:28 PM
@rammer - as our site specifies, most employers are reasonable about the need for compassionate leave and will allow you take a necessary amount of paid or unpaid time off. However, it depends very much on whether you have time left, and your company policy. I would advise that you speak to your HR dept and they will be able to advise you further.
WorkingRights - 27-Oct-14 @ 3:07 PM
my mother died suddenly on my birthday and i took a week off work will i get paid
rammer - 26-Oct-14 @ 6:44 PM
My aunt passed away and my family is holding a memorial for her passing this coming Sunday (she lived in NZ and so her funeral is being held over there - We're holding a memorial because we can't afford to fly out). The memorial is being held 120 miles away where my family live and I have family members flying in from America to attend and spend time with the family. I don't have holiday left and need 2 days off (one before and one after) so that I can travel etc. I have spoken to my Managers with 2 weeks notice and they have said that I cannot have the two days off unpaid that I need.What can I do?
leialoup - 8-Jul-13 @ 11:59 AM
I have been working for my current employer for 8 years and in full time employment.Last October my 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer.I immediately had to take time off to get her through chemo and radiotherapy.My employer were excellent in helping me get through the days and allowed me to take compassionate leave whilst she was at hospital or at home poorly.In March last year she finished her treatment and she no longer has cancer.However, for the next two years she has check up appointments every three months and then three years after that, every six monthly check ups.Our next check up is in January 2013.My employer are now asking if I will be taking it as a day's leave (and not compassionate leave like all of the other appointments have been so far).If I do, I would need four days out of my annual leave entitlement leaving me short for the rest of the year with the school holidays etc.My question is, should I still be entitled to compassionate leave on an ongoing basis for the next five years or should I be taking the days as annual leave from now on?Thank you.
Tilly - 2-Jan-13 @ 12:47 PM
Hi I returned to work on Boxing Day and requested a days holiday for the 3rd January 2013 to attend a family friends funeral. Work the. Asked me who the funeral was for and what time is the funeral. I have been told I can not book a day off as there is already two people from the department off on holiday that day although I could have a half day if I make up my hours, followed by "that is the best I can offer". I find this very unethical especially when I am aware of several other employees have taken time off for funerals in the past. Please inform me of where I stand in regards to my rights in this situation as I always thought time off for a funeral was given unquestionably. Thanks
Ninja - 28-Dec-12 @ 2:51 PM
Hi I need your help I have been in my workplace for 5 years now 6 months ago I lost my husband and I have been left with 2 ten year old boys my work have given me hell saying I cant go back to my managers job they could only give me 12 hours well you cant live on 12 hours aweek were is there duty of care tome please help me lisa
little - 8-Nov-12 @ 1:57 PM
Is an employer allowed to tell other staff why a personal is having a personal leave day (ie a funeral)?
emJ - 4-Sep-12 @ 3:02 AM
Do I get paid for compadionate leave and if so how many days ?
Jaz - 15-Aug-12 @ 4:55 PM
We live in a really sad world where people are not supported when they are having terrible life events. So sorry to you all who have lost people important to you.
abc - 1-Aug-12 @ 8:40 AM
My partners dad is very ill in hospital and is preparing to take compassionate leave. he is entitled to this but unpayed.only prob is we can not offord 2 loose the money will we entitle to benefit help as I dont work I am a carer for my son
lilo - 31-Jul-12 @ 8:23 PM
A friend I work with has just lost her husband and our employer has told her that she can have 2 weeks off but will not get paid so she has to take holidays. Is that correct and can our employer do that.
loopy - 18-Jul-12 @ 10:19 PM
my boss has told me that l have to take a holiday for my friend funeral which l dont have any left,or take the morning off am l entitled to unpaid leave.
swaggs - 12-Jul-12 @ 10:36 PM
my dad has just died we live in yorkshire he lived down south am i entitled to any days off with pay for the funeral or to greive.
blossom - 5-Jun-12 @ 5:57 PM
I lost my mother, and I asked my empolyer for compassionate leave, he said because is a small care home he can afford to pay me. But it's a nursing home with 25 service users. It's big. The problem is when I asked he for my contact of emyloment he refused to give me. I am full time employed
Venice - 16-May-12 @ 3:07 PM
Having worked both in public and private sector - the most common ground there is no such thing as 'compassionate leave'. You may have in your contract a compassionate contingency, if mentioned at all, but most don't. The procedure I am most familiar with is: Any time off must be taken from any annual leave you have remaining. If there is no annual leave, then upaid leave must be requested. Most places though seem to run with an element of common sense and would not object to a day off to attend the funeral of a relative but there is no law saying they have to :(
minime - 24-Mar-12 @ 3:38 PM
Also can I just add, I am not expecting to be paid for my time off to attend my Uncle's funeral and I also even informed my employer that I'd even go back to work after the service if they needed me to.
k - 15-Feb-12 @ 5:43 PM
My Uncle has been suffering from cancer for the last couple of years. Last week the family were told that he would only have a few days left. I let my employers know this straight away. Early yesterday morning my uncle passed away, today I have found out the times and dates for his funeral, within minutes of knowing I called my employers to let them know. Off the beat, they said I wasn't allowed to attend his funeral and I HAVE to work.I have gave them over a weeks notice. There is not a fixed rota, it is done weekly. What are my rights?
k - 15-Feb-12 @ 5:40 PM
I am sorry to hear about your loss.As an employer in a small struggling business (ie like many other employers) I am afraid I have to say that I cannot afford for people to take days off at my expense: the holiday allowance is not just there to cover days in the sun but also other unexpected contingencies. What logic is it that says an employer should allow you to have paid time off because you've had bad news?As for getting a Doctor's note that's just dishonest: if you are genuinely ill stay in bed. Otherwise either take holiday or ask if you can take unpaid leave. In addition to paying you for the extra days PLUS your holiday allowance I need to pay for someone else to cover for you OR I need to ask your collegues to work harder or longer to cover for you
Evil employer - 10-Jan-12 @ 3:46 PM
My friend lost her mum two weeks ago. She had just started her holiday leave for 2 weeks - a holiday she did not go on as her mum died on the 2nd day of leave. She was due to return to work yesterday but due to her feeling still upset she has been signed off by her doc for 3 weeks. She was not planning to take the 3 weeks as she knows that she needs to cover the office of other members of staff so they can go on their hoildays. Her employer has now hand delivered a letter asking her to attend a meeting in a few days. She can take somone with her, but if she didn't attend then the meeting will still go ahead. My friend is now feeling she has not only lost her mum but is now going to lose her job. Has she gone about this the right way? Should she have asked for compassionate leave and not sickness? I must add that she is still on her 3 month trial for the job. Can she fight for it? Or see it as sign that the company was not for her? Shame as she is a hard worker.
jaw - 5-Aug-11 @ 11:44 AM
Same situation as my father has just passed away I have taken 5 days off and have arranged funeral on my day off as I feel pressured to do so which is difficult as I live up north and my dad lived down south, and I've also had to hand his flat back and arrange everything in less than a week cos I feel under pressure to do so. I feel as if I have no time to grieve unless I go to the doctors and say I'm depressed.
tudy - 8-Jun-11 @ 10:23 PM
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