In a concerning revelation, MetLife UK’s recent report, ‘The Last Word,’ brings to light the experiences of employees dealing with grief, with one in seven (15%) stating that their employers offered no support following the loss of a loved one.
The report indicates a wide range of responses from employers, with one in ten (10%) providing only unpaid time off for grieving employees.
Another 11 percent received minimal support, limited to just three days off work. Conversely, 15 percent of respondents reported that their employer was highly supportive, allowing them as much time off as needed.
The call for more substantial support is evident, with nearly a third (32%) expressing a desire for paid time off during bereavement. Colleague support (19%) and unpaid time off (12%) were also cited as crucial elements of assistance.
Greif can vary in nature
Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK, commented on the findings, stating, “The passing of a loved one can be deeply distressing, and unfortunately, everyone will experience a loss at some point in their lives.” Matthews emphasised the need for employers to provide tangible support, particularly time off, acknowledging the personal and varying nature of grief.
MetLife is taking steps to address this issue through their Group Life offering, providing 1.4 million UK employees access to Funeral Concierge Services in partnership with Everest. This initiative offers comprehensive support, including funeral planning assistance and grief counselling, emphasising the importance of emotional and practical resources.
Mark Wood, Chairman of Everest UK, highlighted the challenges faced by grieving individuals and employers. He stressed the need for more nuanced support tailored to individual needs, encouraging open communication between employees and employers about their requirements during such challenging times.
Wood mentioned Everest’s collaboration with MetLife, offering services to simplify and streamline funeral planning, aiming to initiate conversations around bereavement and its impact on people’s lives.
These findings underscore the pressing need for businesses to reassess and enhance their support mechanisms for grieving employees, recognising the unique and personal nature of the grieving process.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.