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How many days off are usually permitted for a member of staff that requires bereavement leave?

Employees have a statutory right to take time off for Dependent Leave in certain circumstances, for example in the case of bereavement leave.

As a condition of taking leave the employee is obliged to inform the employer, as soon as is reasonably practical, of the reason for the leave and how long the employee expects to be on leave.

It is inappropriate to ask for notice in writing due to the nature of Dependent Care leave and you cannot refuse or postpone the leave if it falls within the definitions and ‘bereavement in the case of a dependent’ does. However, you can require the employee to provide you with an indication of the return to work date which shouldn't be too far away because this type of leave is designed to deal with the immediate emergency not the long term plans. If you feel that the employee genuinely needs more time than would be reasonable under dependent care leave then you could suggest they take some holiday leave after the dependent care leave period.

When assessing what is 'reasonable' in the circumstances, you must do just that – assess the context of the application. The following issues are relevant:

• How much time off is required for this type of leave across the organisation (or if you have no experience of that, then what would be likely to be reasonable based on the facts of the dependent care in question)

• How much time off the employee has already been permitted for this purpose if any - unlikely to be relevant in this case.

• The circumstances of your business and the ability of your business to cope in the employee's absence

• The leave taken should be reasonable in terms of length of time and frequency.

See also: Leave IT to the experts

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