Royds Withy King is a top 100 UK law firm based in London that employs 550 members of staff. The organisation has a compassionate and bereavement leave policy to support its staff when they need it most, whether that is to assist a close relative who is seriously ill, emergency time off for dependents or to cope with the death of a loved one.
Amanda Dow, director of HR at Royds Withy King, explains: “We offer two weeks of full pay compassionate leave, two weeks of full pay leave for a pregnancy loss of up to 24 weeks and one week of full pay emergency time off for dependents with a poorly child or to support a relative with an appointment. We also have an external employee assistance programme available to colleagues and their families 24/7.”
One thing the firm prides itself on is not stopping the bereavement support once the leave has been taken, acknowledging that while leave supports employees in the immediate period of stress and grief, the natural reaction and adjustment to loss and change may take some time and will be personal to each individual.
Not only does it encourage staff to speak openly with their manager or HR, it also highlights the importance of having several mental health first aiders across the firm, who anyone can talk to confidentially.
Dow believes it is important to offer bereavement support as caring for employees is the right thing to do and is often is deeply embedded in the organisation’s values and culture.
“Our people are our most important asset and we recognise the need to give them support and flexibility when they need it most,” she says. “When introducing a policy or guidance on bereavement leave, it is important to remember that not only is grief different for everyone, but relationships are also different. You may only offer three days of leave for a grandparent and two weeks for a parent, but if the grandparents raised the person then three days may not be enough. Therefore, a policy needs to be flexible and managers need to be able to use discretion to meet the needs of their team.”