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Requesting Compassionate Leave

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 26 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Compassionate Leave Employer Employee

Although there is no actual legal right to compassionate leave, the majority of responsible employers are keen to be fair in this area. Fairness, of course, is required from the employee, too, so do not expect your employer to be fair and flexible with you if you are forever coming up with new reasons to take paid time off.

What is Compassionate Leave?

The term ‘compassionate leave’ is taken to mean paid leave for all manner of ‘emotional and personal’ reasons that are not related to the illness of the employee involved, but rather domestic emergencies or personal issues relating to their spouse, children or parents. Some companies call this ‘time off for dependants’. It is also used for paid leave following the death of someone close in order to deal with the initial grieving.

The ‘someone close’ factor is very important, especially if your employer is relatively tight on such matters. Speaking as someone who asked their boss for a morning off to Attend A Family Funeral only to be asked ‘Who died?’, it is worth noting that such times can be very emotional, so it’s good to know the facts before you get into a situation that you may find upsetting.

Be Reasonable

Human resource professionals define compassionate leave as ‘reasonable time off for extreme personal reasons during working hours’, so it is not something to be seen as a ‘top up’ to your holiday entitlements, but neither should it be feared if totally necessary. Examples of understandable compassionate leave often relate to serious illness of spouse, children or parents, bereavement of a close relative, or unavoidable last-minute needs, such as a problem at your child’s school that requires your urgent attendance.

It is important to take control of the situation wherever possible because, sadly, there have been a number of cases where employees have been sacked during long-term compassionate leave, usually when their employer feels that the employee is taking advantage of their good will. If, perhaps, you are on compassionate leave following the death of someone close to you and you do not feel able to return to work, it is a good idea to have an appointment with your GP in order to be given a doctor's note.

Stay in Touch

It is advisable to stay in regular contact with your employer during your compassionate leave, especially if it is for a period of over two weeks. Speak to your boss, line manager or HR manager and keep them up to date with your progress, perhaps even suggesting returning for fewer hours if you are not ready for full-time employment.

Take it in Turns

One note of caution is that domestic emergencies are often dealt with by the wife/mother of the family. If both parents are working full-time and there is a domestic emergency, try to take it in turns to deal with it to reduce the impact on any one person’s career. Employers understand that issues arise and need to be dealt with at short notice, but they do not take kindly to it happening too often.

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[Add a Comment]
Jon - Your Question:
I lost a brother to suicide two weeks ago. My supervisor talk to my boss and was told to send me home. It was told to me by my supervisor and boss that I was being paid for the total two weeks. After the first week I tried to return to work and was told I should take off more time because I was being paid for the days off. Now it's time for the hours to be processed for payment and my boss is only approving 40 hours of the 73 hours total. I appreciate the fact that he is doing so but being told that I was being paid for more hours caused me to contribute more than I should have to burial expenses. What do, I do in this situation?

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. As much as I imagine you do not wish to confront this issue, your only recourse would be to try to resolve the matter directly with your boss. If you attempt to resolve the issue informally but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 27-Jul-17 @ 1:41 PM
I lost a brother to suicide two weeks ago. My supervisor talk to my boss and was told to send me home. It was told to me by my supervisor and boss that I was being paid for the total two weeks. After the first week i tried to return to work and was told i should take off more time because i was being paid for the days off. Now it's time for the hours to be processed for payment and my boss is only approving 40 hours of the 73 hours total. I appreciate the fact that he is doing so but being told that i was being paid for more hours caused me to contribute more than i should have to burial expenses. What do, i do in this situation?
Jon - 26-Jul-17 @ 12:33 AM
Speedy - Your Question:
Hi my stepson had a phone call from his ex saying that she was being rushed into hospital and for him to pick his kids up when he told his boss his boss said he had to finish the job first can they do that

Our Response:
Your stepson wuld have to check his employment contract, company handbook or intranet for details about his company's policy towards compassionate leave.
WorkingRights - 25-Jul-17 @ 1:44 PM
Hi my stepson had a phone call from his ex saying that she was being rushed into hospital and for him to pick his kids up when he told his boss his boss said he had to finish the job first can they do that
Speedy - 24-Jul-17 @ 8:06 PM
work - Your Question:
Hi my babe is very ill and I have to take time off work to look after her and I like to know if my job have to payou mi for he time I am gonna be off ?

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract to see what it specifies and/or talk to your employer directly regarding this.
WorkingRights - 16-Jun-17 @ 10:34 AM
hi my babe is very ill and I have to take time off work to look after her and I like to know if my job have to payou mi for he time I am gonna be off ?
work - 15-Jun-17 @ 2:39 PM
Dan - Your Question:
My partner is going to have brain surgery in the up coming weeks we have two children and I can't afford to take time off without paying but my employer doesn't offer compassionate leave it don't know what to do now. Thanks for any advice you can give

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your employer may pay you for time off to look after dependants but they don’t have to. If these terms form part of your contract, unfortunately there is little you can do apart from agree to take time off as annual leave, please see gov.uk link here.
WorkingRights - 24-May-17 @ 11:56 AM
My partner is going to have brain surgery in the up coming weeks we have two children and I can't afford to take time off without paying but my employer doesn't offer compassionate leave it don't know what to do now. Thanks for any advice you can give
Dan - 23-May-17 @ 4:32 PM
Lyndi - Your Question:
My mother has just had major surgery like asked my employer for holidays but was turned down.so had to take unpaid leave. My mam is still in hospital and I am her only visitor. This is taking its toll on me raising my stress levels so I can't sleep. I have a history of stress and anxiety if I go on the sick would I get dissaplined. Just thinking about facing my employer is getting to me

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions contained in your contract of employment. You cannot be disciplined for being off sick. However, there may be certain requirements that your employer has requested in your contract when it comes to taking time off from your job.
WorkingRights - 10-Apr-17 @ 1:59 PM
My mother has just had major surgery like asked my employer for holidays but was turned down.so had to take unpaid leave. My mam is still in hospital and I am her only visitor. This is taking its toll on me raising my stress levels so I can't sleep.I have a history of stress and anxiety if I go on the sick would I get dissaplined. Just thinking about facing my employer is getting to me
Lyndi - 9-Apr-17 @ 9:10 PM
Sandy - Your Question:
My sons father died. He had 8 days off which had a gp certificate returned to work then was off for 3 days as couldnt cope which was certificated by gp with depression. Back following week. Trainee at Lift company whom he has worked for a few years. Should he have been paid for those 3 days?

Our Response:
Your son would have to read the terms of his employment contract to find this information.
WorkingRights - 28-Feb-17 @ 2:39 PM
My sons father died.He had 8 days off which had a gp certificate returned to work then was off for 3 days as couldnt cope which was certificated by gp with depression. Back following week. Trainee atLift company whom he has worked for a few years.Should he have been paid for those 3 days?
Sandy - 28-Feb-17 @ 7:25 AM
Little min - Your Question:
I have only worked for my employer for about a month,my dad went in hospital for a op after collapsing at home, I was on my scheduled day off when this happened. I went into work the next day and explained what happened and that I would need a few days off as he was due for op the following day I worked that shift. I was told by the store manager "leave it with me" the next day I went to the hospital but my dad had already gone for op.I phoned work and they said nothing had been sorted and to go work today as early as possible. The op took longer than expected so I rang work again and said I wouldn't be able to get there and there was only 2 hours of my shift I was again encouraged to get to work ASAP, but it was impossible and so did not end up going.in the middle of the night I got a call to say the op went wrong my dad had internal bleeding and needed more surgery and now is in intensive care,I phoned work again and told them my circumstances and that I'd need time off and there response was "OK". What tights do I have for time off/pay if any? I'm on a probationary period as I've just started can the sack me for taking time off?

Our Response:
You have no 'rights' to request you are paid. Much depends upon your employer and it is up to his or her own discretion regarding whether you will be paid or not. 
WorkingRights - 6-Feb-17 @ 11:14 AM
I have only worked for my employer for about a month,my dad went in hospital for a op after collapsing at home, I was on my scheduled day off when this happened. I went into work the next day and explained what happened and that I would need a few days off as he was due for op the following day I worked that shift. I was told by the store manager "leave it with me" the next day I went to the hospital but my dad had already gone for op.I phoned work and they said nothing had been sorted and to go work today as early as possible. The op took longer than expected so I rang work again and said I wouldn't be able to get there and there was only 2 hours of my shift I was again encouraged to get to work ASAP, but it was impossible and so did not end up going.in the middle of the night I got a call to say the op went wrong my dad had internal bleeding and needed more surgery and now is in intensive care,I phoned work again and told them my circumstances and that I'd need time off and there response was "OK". What tights do I have for time off/pay if any? I'm on a probationary period as I've just started can the sack me for taking time off?
Little min - 5-Feb-17 @ 9:30 AM
Cazza - Your Question:
I work for an agency and have done for 4 months.Recently my brother was moved into a care home as he has dymentia. I booked 2 days leave for this weekend( My first holiday booking form in the 4 months employment) to assist his 2 sons in the clearance of his home. Which has to be sold to pay for his care.My 2 days holiday were rejected.on the grounds that 2 many other workers had booked time off. However the agency told me they could cover my shift and I could take the time off as unauthorised absence.My question is can I use compassionate leave for these 2 days off.Thank you

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You cannot 'use' compassionate leave, compassionate leave is a discretionary leave awarded by your employer for a bereavement or in an emergency situation. You may wish to read the terms of your contract regarding this. However, as a rule, compassionate leave does not apply if you knew about a situation beforehand. In your situation you may have to apply for unpaid leave instead (if your employer is willing to release you and if you are not needed for cover).
WorkingRights - 26-Jan-17 @ 11:11 AM
I work for an agency and have done for 4 months... Recently my brother was moved into a care home as he has dymentia.I booked 2 days leave for this weekend( My first holiday booking form in the 4 months employment) to assist his 2 sons in the clearance of his home. Which has to be sold to pay for his care. My 2 days holiday were rejected..on the grounds that 2 many other workers had booked time off. However theagency told me they could cover my shift and I could take the time off as unauthorised absence. My question is can I use compassionate leave for these 2 days off. Thank you
Cazza - 25-Jan-17 @ 11:24 AM
Carl - Your Question:
Hello my question is my mother only had a few days until she was to pass on. My boss wouldn't let me have a day off to see her and now she passed away. He will not let me have any time. At all off. What should I do

Our Response:
I assume your employer will allow you to have time to attend the funeral? You may wish to look at your contract to see what it specifies. If it specifies you are allowed time off for compassionate leave, then you may have to speak with your boss's line manager. It is rare an employer will forbid time off without good reason for a close relative's funeral.
WorkingRights - 21-Dec-16 @ 12:21 PM
Hello my question is my mother only had a few days until she was to pass on. My boss wouldn't let me have a day off to see her and now she passed away. He will not let me have any time. At all off. What should I do
Carl - 20-Dec-16 @ 6:02 PM
Claire - Your Question:
My son has had a ongoing eye infection that has now resulted in him needing a cornea transplant I have to be with him at all times and the surgery is not for another 4 /6 weeks. I do not have any family there is only me and my son I spoke to my team leader who has given me this week off as autherised unpaid leave but I dont kn9w what to do next if I dont work I wont get paid and then I wont be able to pay bills etc or get to hospital appointments please advice.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I can direct you to Turn2Us which has a helpline that may be able to advise further financially, please see link here. Would your company allow you to work from home on a flexible basis for a few weeks? Please see link here. Also, Social Services have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children and adults and can provide a wide range of services to children and their parents, usually within the own home environment and co-ordinated by a social worker. Therefore it may be worthwhile making contact, as there are different departments in social services to support varying needs. Family Lives may also be able to give some constructive advice if you do not wish to contact Social Services, please see link here. I hope this helps and I hope you manage to sort this issue out.
WorkingRights - 30-Nov-16 @ 12:26 PM
My son has had a ongoing eye infection that has now resulted in him needing a cornea transplant i have to be with him at all times and the surgery is not for another 4 /6 weeks. I do not have any family there is only me and my son i spoke to my team leader who has given me this week off as autherised unpaid leave but i dont kn9w what to do next if i dont work i wont get paid and then i wont be able to pay bills etc or get to hospital appointments please advice.
Claire - 29-Nov-16 @ 6:55 PM
Niki - Your Question:
Hi,my grandmother died and I have to fly with all my family back home and I buy tickets on the last minutes with a very high price. I inform my manager about these and on my return I ask Human Resource which rights I have because I am working on these company from almost 10 years and he told me "nothing!"do you know what is my right for compassionate leave?

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear about your grandmother. However, as specified in the article, you have no particular 'rights' to be awarded compassionate leave, it is up to your employer's discretion.
WorkingRights - 15-Nov-16 @ 10:58 AM
hi, my grandmother died and I have to fly with all my family back home and I buy tickets on the last minutes with a very high price. I inform my manager about these and on my return I ask Human Resource which rights I have because i am working on these company from almost 10 years and he told me "nothing!" do you know what is my right for compassionate leave?
Niki - 14-Nov-16 @ 1:39 PM
Martingilbe- Your Question:
I was working for one of the big work agencies and I was given a placement and I have been there 4 weeks which was ongoing contract due to my mum falling ill and being taken into hospital her health began to decline she was in a coma for 3 days I had 1 week off and I had another day off after 3 days my mum came out of hospital and I went back to work for 3 days and I had to take another day off to take my mum for a follow up appoitment then I was straight back to work. On the Friday 16th September I was in work and due to the fact it was my birthday I requested a half a day which I was given and then I was back at work as normal on the Monday. Late Monday night I was phoned by my agency that I we no longer required to Work there due to the fact that I had to much time off 1 week 1 and. A half days have I got any rights

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear about the fact your mother has been ill, but you have no rights if you are on a temporary contract.
WorkingRights - 21-Sep-16 @ 11:09 AM
I was working for one of the big work agencies and I was given a placement and I have been there 4 weeks which was ongoing contract due to my mum falling ill and being taken into hospital her health began to decline she was in a coma for 3 days I had 1 week off and I had another day off after 3 days my mum came out of hospital and i went back to work for 3 days and I had to take another day off to take my mum for a follow up appoitment then I was straight back to work . On the Friday 16th September I was in work and due to the fact it was my birthday I requested a half a day which I was given and then I was back at work as normal on the Monday . Late Monday night I was phoned by my agency that I we no longer required to Work there due to the fact that I had to much time off 1 week 1 and. A half days have I got any rights
Martingilbe - 20-Sep-16 @ 10:58 AM
Uncle harry - Your Question:
I asked my employer for annual leave for one day whilst I take my wife to hospital for an operation. Due to somebody else being off that week this was refused. Can this be denied, or should compassion be shown.

Our Response:
I'm afraid it is up to your employer's discretion.
WorkingRights - 19-Jul-16 @ 2:51 PM
I asked my employer for annual leave for one day whilst I take my wife to hospital for an operation. Due to somebody else being off that week this was refused. Can this be denied, or should compassion be shown.
Uncle harry - 16-Jul-16 @ 8:58 AM
Georgie - Your Question:
I phoned my line manager on Tuesday to request the day off as my grandfathers respirator was being turned off and I wanted to be with him during this time. He agreed I could go, on returning to work my manager has informed me that as his policy is only 3 people on one given day are allowed to no on annual leave which there were already on the Tuesday I will have to take unpaid leave.

Our Response:
You would need to arrange this directly with your employer to see if he may make and exception if you request the day off with unpaid leave.
WorkingRights - 1-Jul-16 @ 12:28 PM
I phoned my line manager on Tuesday to request the day off as my grandfathers respirator was being turned off and I wanted to be with him during this time. He agreed I could go, on returning to work my manager has informed me that as his policy is only 3 people on one given day are allowed to no on annual leave which there were already on the Tuesday I will have to take unpaid leave.
Georgie - 30-Jun-16 @ 5:07 PM
toaty - Your Question:
Hi my dad has been admitted to hosputal 3 times in the past 3 yrs.We nearly lost him twice.Today he was diagnosed with cancer.I was meant to be on shift timorrow and phoned my work ,i explainec the situation and asked if I could take a bit of compassionate leave as im feeling stressed out.I was told no as my shift isnt until tomorrow.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear about your father. As specified in the article, I'm afraid it is at your boss's discretion whether he/she grants you compassionate leave or not.
WorkingRights - 22-Jun-16 @ 2:39 PM
Hi my dad has been admitted to hosputal 3 times in the past 3 yrs.We nearly lost him twice.Today he was diagnosed with cancer.I was meant to be on shift timorrow and phoned my work ,i explainec the situation and asked if i could take a bit of compassionate leave as im fee ling stressed out.I was told no as my shift isnt until tomorrow.
toaty - 21-Jun-16 @ 10:37 PM
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