Case study: Compassionate leave

Ann's best friend was seriously ill in hospital following a road accident. Hearing the news at work, she asked her employer for time off to visit the hospital. Her employer said that he couldn't spare her, she would have to go after work. Later in the week, Ann's friend died and she was given time off to attend the funeral. Her employer deducted this time off from her wages at the end of the week.

Ann thought her employer should not have made this deduction from her wages - but is she correct?

No, her employer was correct. She had no entitlement to have time off to visit her friend in hospital unless there was a provision in her contract of employment for such leave, or an established custom and practice in her place of work. The entitlement to force majeure leave under the Parental Leave Act 1998 is confined to the illness of a close family member of the employee.

With regard to deducting pay for the time off for the funeral, unless Ann's contract of employment had a provision about compassionate leave, she has no entitlement to pay. Force majeure leave is limited leave from work following a family crisis and it does not give any entitlement to leave following a bereavement.

Page edited: 12 March 2014