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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Compassionate leave

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I'm trying to get some ad vice to my current situation as an employee:

I've had to take compassionate leave because of my late wife health conditions on the 20 of August until now , my wages have been paid in full and I've manage to work from home on various occasion while on leave .
On the 2nd of January my wife sadly passed away and the line manager kept chasing me for about a week to get an update on my come back to the office knowing she would be cremated in the uk on the 10th of january and that the cremated remains had to be taken to Italy where another funeral took place on the 16th .
I've asked for more time off and they said that I can't have it even unpaid and that my best option would be to resign or go back by the 11th of February , at this point I've asked for a confirmation in writing of the a viable options as I worked for them since June 2004 and they replied as follows:

Dear Luigi,

Further to our telephone conversation last week (22.01.2013) I would just like to confirm in writing my response to the points discussed.

As an organisation we are deeply sympathetic for your recent loss, however due to the operational requirements of the business we unfortunately have to inform you the extended compassionate leave that you have been granted as a means of goodwill since 20th August 2012 must come to an end and we will need you to return to work by Monday 11th February 2013.

Should you feel you are unable to do so at this time I would recommend that you seek medical advice and discuss with your GP as to whether he/she feels you are able to return to work at the current time. Should they feel you are unable to at the present time then a DRs Certificate will be required for our records to enable your statutory sick pay to be paid, it is with regret that I need to bring to your attention that under the terms and conditions of your contract, any sick pay taken is payable as statutory, which means it will be considerably lower than your normal salary. Details of which can be found on the Direct Government website, I attach a link for you to review.

We realise that this is a difficult time for you and would like to remind you of our Employee Assistance Programme which is a confidential service available to all of our employees. If you would like to speak to someone in confidence, their number is XXXXX(NNN) NNN-NNNN

Should you have any queries or wish to discuss further please do not hesitate to contact me, either by replying to this e-mail or by telephone.

I would however appreciate an indication of your intentions as to whether your return on the 11th February is likely, this is to allow us to ensure adequate coverage operationally. As mentioned above after this time you will either need to return to work or have a doctors certificate to say that you are unfit to work at this time.

Once again may I offer my deepest sympathies following your recent loss.

Now I'm a bit concern that they are trying to save some money and can't understand why they didn't put in writing the resignation part that was suggested and discussed over the phone.

Could you please help and advice ?

Best Regards
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to be able to assist with your question today. Just so that I can direct my advice more appropriately could you please let me know if you have any specific questions you want me to address in relation to this?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi Ben,

Basically I want to make sure it is fear and legally correct how my company is handling this unique situation .
Could I be made redundant instead ?
Am I entitled to a lump sum for the 8 and a half years I worked for them ?
In a situation where a life threading disease (cancer) was the reason behind my absence , how much leave I'm entitled to from the employment laws ? What percentage of the salary should be paid during this times ?

Hope this helps, thanks
Having looked at the information you have provided, including the company's response, what they have offered you is fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

There is no legal right to take compassionate leave and the employer has been quite accommodating in allowing you to take this extended time off work. As they have rightly pointed out, this time is discretionary and they have let you be off for a few months which is much longer than what an employer would usually allow an employee to take.

If you are on compassionate leave then unless your contract says that such time off will be unpaid, this time off will be unpaid. So the fact that you were paid full wages for this period is good and not something you would be entitled to by law.

You cannot be made redundant in this situation because there is no redundancy here. Your job has not disappeared and your employer still needs you in your position. So redundancy is out of the question.

At this stage you really have the following options open to you:
• Return to work as normal, or try to negotiate a phased return to work where you initially come back part time
• Be signed off sick by your doctor but you would then only be entitled to any sick pay that your contract allows for. If there is nothing in there about sick pay then you will only get the Statutory Sick Pay amount, which is not a lot
• Resign - whilst you cannot really be forced by the employer to leave, it is an option that you can pursue. You will only be paid your contractual notice period and that will only be paid at the amount you are entitled to at the time. So if you are signed off sick then you will only get sick pay at the SSP rate for that period.
• Continue to be off. However if you are not signed off sick then it would amount to unauthorised absence from work and the employer can take disciplinary action against you.

I am afraid you are not entitled to a lump sum for the timer you have worked there because you are not being made redundant.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating as that is a very important part of our process. Your question will not close and I can continue providing further advice if necessary. Thank you
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for your answer just wanted to make sure it's fair.

Best Regards
All the best to you too