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Topic: Time off and holidays

compassionate leave rejection letter
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Compassionate leave rejection letter

Compassionate leave rejection letter

You’re entitled to reject an employee’s request for compassionate leave, unless it falls within the circumstances covered by the statutory right to unpaid time off for dependants. If you do so, use our letter to help set out your reasons.

Time off for dependants

Under statutory provisions employees are entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to take action necessary to deal with certain emergency situations involving their dependants. The statutory right envisages that the amount of time off will be sufficient to enable the employee to cope with the crisis, or to make alternative longer-term care arrangements, but that no more than a day or two should be needed. It’s intended to cover situations such as when a dependent falls ill, is injured or dies or where there’s been an unexpected disruption to their care arrangements. However, it’s not time off for extended grieving following a dependant’s death, nor is it time to sit at a sick dependant’s bedside. For these purposes, a dependant comprises a spouse, partner, child or parent or someone who lives with the employee as part of their family. In certain cases it may also be someone who reasonably relies on the employee for assistance.

Compassionate leave

In addition to the statutory right you may wish to consider exercising your discretion to grant compassionate leave for a longer period of time and in relation to a wider range of family members where the situation, say, involves death or serious illness - our Compassionate Leave Clause can be used for this purpose.

Rejection letter

Unless it falls within the statutory right to time off for dependants, there’s no general right for employees to take compassionate leave for relatives’ or friends’ deaths or illnesses/injuries, so you’re legally entitled to turn down a request. You can use our Compassionate Leave Rejection Letter here. It sets out a number of optional grounds on which you might reject the request, including that the employee has already taken too many days of compassionate leave in the last twelve months, their request doesn’t relate to an immediate family member, the illness/injury of their relative isn’t sufficiently serious, work is just too busy or there are already other staff off and no further time off can be granted. Finally, it has an optional paragraph advising the employee that they can still use their paid annual leave entitlement to take time off, provided they comply with your procedures for requesting annual leave.

A compromise position

Where the employee has requested several days of compassionate leave but you’re, say, willing to grant only one day, make this clear by amending your letter accordingly.

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