Co-op has introduced a new colleague compassionate leave policy to better support its 57,000 employees when someone close to them dies or becomes seriously ill.

The retailer is committed to creating a truly inclusive workplace and delivering a fairer world for colleagues, according to a statement released ahead of Dying Matters Awareness Week.

The refreshed policy emphasizes flexibility in taking paid leave, tailored to provide the best support for individual circumstances.

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Managers will have the discretion to make the right decisions for each situation.

The retailer has also doubled the number of days paid leave to support colleagues through bereavement, from 5 to 10, regardless of the relationship to the person who has died.

Co-op has also implemented a new flexible approach that allows managers to offer further paid days leave based on individual circumstances.

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This approach aims to ensure that colleagues have the necessary support to manage bereavement in a way that works for them.

Co-op’s new policy is in response to research commissioned by the company with YouGov, which found that 62 percent of employees believe that bereavement should be treated as a workplace issue with support available for colleagues.

Over half of employees across workplaces in the UK also say that bereavement leave is an important issue.

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The retailer recognizes that losing a loved one or caring for someone who is seriously ill can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life.

Co-op has therefore made it a priority to provide the support that reflects the individual needs of its colleagues.

The new policy is part of Co-op’s ongoing commitment to creating a supportive and compassionate workplace culture.

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Co-op chief people and inclusion officer Claire Costello said: “Here at Co-op, we want to support our colleagues when someone close to them dies or is seriously ill.  We want everyone to ask for the support they need and will always handle things as sensitively as possible.

“We know that modern life can be complicated, so there are no restrictions about the relationships or situations that we give compassionate leave for. We also know that the death of someone close, or finding out about a terminal diagnosis, can affect people in different ways, so our new compassionate leave policy provides the right support to everyone.”

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