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More bereavement support needed for workers and line managers

14 November 2019

UK workers suffering with bereavement should be given more support, according to MetLife UK. 

Research has shown that one in 10 employees is affected by bereavement(1) at any given time, with the most recent government data showing that around 96,000 people of working age die each year(2).

MetLife said that while the impact of bereavement can be “potentially devastating”, it is often not fully recognised at work. The role of the line manager can be a critical one in supporting staff through difficult and emotive circumstances and to provide practical and emotional support and guidance

Areas managers may need to consider include understanding issues, including the support that is available and how it can help their employees both practically and emotionally, at a very sensitive time.

Staff may need time off work to cope in the immediate aftermath of a bereavement while the anniversary can also be difficult.  Managers may need to communicate with families as well as colleagues and potentially clients.

Communicating the company bereavement policy to all staff is an effective way to help with returning to work while reducing staff anxiety at a challenging time.

Adrian Matthews, employee benefits director, MetLife UK, said: “Businesses often have very limited experience dealing with bereavement or terminal illness and can find themselves unprepared and overwhelmed when it happens.

“Employers and employees need access to comprehensive practical and emotional support to help meet the needs of the individual and the business at their time of need, for as long as they need it.”

As part of its Group Life cover for employees, MetLife is providing a free Bereavement & Probate helpline, offering emotional and practical support, as well as support for terminal illness diagnoses, whether for the individual or colleagues and/ or loved ones. The policy enables employees to receive six face-to-face counselling sessions a year.

MetLife is also offering support to line managers, providing them with advice on how to support employees affected by a bereavement and the possible impact on individuals in the workplace if they suffer the loss of a colleague.

1 ACAS bereavement data

2 Government population data

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