One in seven employees ignored by their employer when grieving the loss of a loved one – MetLife UK

  • One in seven (15%) employees said they were offered no support from their employers following a loss of a loved one
  • One in ten (10%) were only given unpaid time off to grieve, while 11%  were given minimal support – only up to three days off work
  • Nearly a third (32%) said they would value paid time off when dealing with a bereavement.

One in seven employees (15%) say their employer didn’t offer them any support – in or out of the workplace – when grieving the loss of a loved one, according to MetLife UK’s The Last Word report.

Support from employers appears to be inconsistent at best, and almost non-existent at worst. One in ten (10%) were only offered unpaid leave, while another 11% fared slightly better but received only up to three days off.

Others paint a more positive picture. 15% said their employer was very supportive and allowed them to take as much time off as needed. A further one in ten (12%) said their employer checked in with them regularly, and 8% were offered additional support such as counselling.

People are calling for more support from employers. Paid time off was the key ask, with almost a third (32%) saying they would value being offered this in the event of a bereavement. Others hope for colleague support (19%), or even just unpaid time off (12%).

Some employees went further, stating they’d value having as much time as needed (17%). And the same number (17%) would like their employer to check in with them regularly.

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK said: “The passing of a loved one can be deeply distressing. And unfortunately, everyone will experience a loss at some point in their lives. Our research found that more than a third of UK adults have experienced a bereavement in the last two years. With grief it is an intensely personal experience and will affect each person differently. And there’s no right or wrong way to mourn. While there is little that can be done to reduce the grief of loss itself, our research shows there are a number of tangible ways employers can help lessen the stress and pain. What is evident is that employees would value time off to be able to grieve without the worry of work. When the time comes, employers will generate staff loyalty by supporting them through this difficult time. Taking action to equip people with additional emotional and practical resources – whether that’s in or out the workplace is vitally important.

“At MetLife, we feel passionately that individuals should have access to practical and emotional support to help them at their time of need, for as long as they need it. Through our latest Group Life offering, we offer 1.4 million UK employees covered by MetLife access to our Funeral Concierge Services through our partnership with Everest. This gives them support in considering, planning, navigating, and carrying out funeral planning, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It also includes a free will-writing service. We also offer grief counselling where our trained experts are on hand to support employees, as well as their family members should they need more support.”

Alleviating some of that emotional toll when dealing with loss by helping with the practical, allows people more time to grieve.”

Mark Wood, Chairman of Everest UK commented: “These findings illustrate the immense challenges that face both grieving individuals in the workplace and their employers struggling to offer them the right support. It is striking to see that there is a lack of clarity and understanding around the needs of bereaved employees, which includes more logistical support and guidance from employers rather than just standard ‘one size fits all’ policies. Part of the issue is a void of communication around the subject of death between employees and employers. A first step would be to allow for, and encourage, safe conversations with employers about one’s needs – whether that means paid time off, extended leave, help groups, mental health services or other kinds of bereavement support.

“In conjunction with MetLife, Everest offers employees a service to simplify and streamline the funeral planning process by offering comprehensive end-of-life planning services and extensive support to guide families through a traumatic time in their lives. In doing so, we hope to bring about a change in the way people think about funeral planning and services, in addition to encouraging the conversation around bereavement and the impact it has on people’s lives.”