Losing a loved one can be devastating and is often unexpected and unforeseen. Often in such situations, everything else takes a backseat, including professional commitments one may have towards their employers.

To allow people time to grieve and feel better after a loss of a family member, companies have introduced Bereavement leave.

Bereavement leave or compassionate leave is where employees can take some time off as they recover from a close one's demise without worrying about work.

It is still a new concept in India and is gradually coming into people's knowledge.

Let us find out what is bereavement leave, its meaning, how to apply for a compassionate/bereavement leave, along with a sample to help you understand the format better.

What is bereavement leave?

I have often heard people ask this question even though it is one of the most important leaves for any employee.

Bereavement leaves are paid leaves used by the employees on account of the death of a close friend or family member.

While there are no laws requiring employers to offer bereavement leave, most companies provide paid leave on compassionate grounds, taking into account the employee's situation.

This allows them to grieve, participate in the last rites, or handle any other legal or family situation that may arise.

Bereavement leave meaning

Employees take bereavement leave (also known as compassionate leave or grievance leave) when a family member or a close friend passes away.

Some companies also recognize pet bereavement leaves, and provide some time off to their employees as they deal with the death of their pets.

When an employee's immediate family member passes away, he/she is entitled to a few days of paid leave to tend to the funeral arrangements.

Though all organizations provide an additional few days of unpaid leaves if requested.

Unfortunately, very few countries have formal laws for bereavement leave, and in India, many companies still do not recognize these leaves officially.

However, there would seldom be a company that would object to someone taking a few days off after the death of a close one as it is crucial to be compassionate and generous to allow employees adequate time to deal with their loss.

How to apply for Bereavement leave?

The bereaved employee must write a formal bereavement leave letter to their employer, stating the circumstances and the duration for which they will need an exemption from work.

Applying for bereavement leave is a rather simple process. All you need to do is follow these steps:

1. Inform your superiors/colleagues at the earliest

Since bereavement leaves are not like other leaves that can be planned, make sure you inform people in your office at the first convenient time.

Doing so will get you some extra time before you are in the right mind frame to write a death leave application.

It will also keep your co-workers updated and give them a head start on taking care of the workload.

2. Draft a written bereavement leave application

Now that you have verbally informed people in your office, the next step is to write a bereavement letter to your management.

Applying with a written leave application is the official way of applying for a long-term leave. Remember to inform all concerned people about your absence and the course of action, in case you have one in place.

3. Outline the duration of your leave term

Another important thing while writing a bereavement leave is the start date and end date for your leave term.

Even though most people would not know when they can come back after something this traumatic, you must add a potential date to get back to work in your letter.

4. Proofread and send

Making an error in these trying times is very easy and almost unavoidable. So, it is a good idea to check the text before you send it ahead of your application for compassionate leave.

You can read it a couple of times to edit and omit the content or use language checkers like Grammarly to lose any inconsistencies and grammatical errors in your application.

Bereavement letter format

The format of a bereavement letter is quite similar to other business letters. However, since writing one can seem hard at such a time, these letters can be short, to the point, and concise. The few things a bereavement letter must include are:

  1. All concerned people marked as recipients or in CC
  2. Summary of your situation
  3. The duration for which you will need the leaves
  4. Request for bereavement leave
  5. Contact details and other important information your colleagues may need in your absence

Bereavement letter sample

With the context set, let us dive into how to write a bereavement letter with a sample.

Dear Mr. Kapoor,

I regret to inform you that my father passed away today, tragically and unexpectedly. In light of these circumstances, I respectfully request that you grant me 5 days of paid leave and 3 days of unpaid leave beginning today.

I am heading home today, April 9, 2021, and will be out of town for the funeral and other arrangements until Monday, April 17, 2021. I will be back in the office on April 18, 2021, positively. I would appreciate your concern in this matter, as I will need this time to take care of my family.

In case you need me, please leave me a message on my number. You can also reach me at (000) 20XX XXXX.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,
Puja Hegde
(Social media manager)

Writing a compassionate leave can be painful, and we wish that you never have to apply for bereavement leave. But if you ever do, we hope you can find all your answers in this blog.

You can find other types of leave applications here.

All the best!

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