The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has today (March 13th) launched an innovative resource pack aimed at helping managers and workers to support their colleagues affected by bereavement in the Irish workplace each year.

 In Ireland, it’s estimated that one in 10 of the Irish workforce each year can be directly affected by bereavement, amounting to over 190,000 workers.

 An initiative of the IHF, the resource pack has been a collaborative project between employers, unions and representative bodies. It is made up of six Information Sheets which are simple, easy to use guides on topics such as “How to Deliver Bad News” and “What to Say” and these can be downloaded free of charge from www.griefatwork.ie

 The project has been developed by the IHF with the help of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), The Health and Safety Authority (HSA), Irish Business & Employers Confederation (Ibec), Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), The Wheel, Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA), Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), Small Firms Association (SFA) and the Irish Management Institute (IMI).

 Welcoming the announcement, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Richard Bruton said: “Supporting workers during times of difficulty such as the death of someone close, is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. Healthy, safe and contented workers are key to the long-term sustainability of enterprise and employment in Ireland. Well-run enterprises increasingly see the welfare of their workers as key to their long-term competitiveness and a key mission of my Department is encouraging employers to take a more active role in these issues. Today’s launch of an innovative resource pack to help employers and workers support colleagues who are affected by bereavement is very welcome. This has been developed in cooperation with employers’ groups, workers’ representatives, my Department as well as representatives of the NGO sector and represents a very welcome addition to workplace supports”.

 Speaking at the launch, ICTU General Secretary David Begg stated: “It would be impossible to underestimate how valuable supportive colleagues and workmates can be at a time of loss and bereavement. Their understanding can prove critical in helping people cope with their loss and with the demands of the workplace, which can seem daunting in the aftermath of a bereavement. I think managers and employers may sometimes take that support for granted and would urge that they are more proactive in helping foster and maintain a more understanding culture in the workplace.”

 ISME CEO Mark Fielding added: "The availability of the information pack will help employers deal with a very sensitive issue in an appropriate manner and hopefully show the bereaved employee that they are valued and understood."

 A survey commissioned by the IHF in 2006, found that most organisations in Ireland did not have clear guidelines on managing bereavement in the workplace despite believing there could be health and safety implications for bereaved employees.

 Sharon Foley, CEO of the IHF commented: “In the workplace it can be difficult to know how to respond to someone who has been bereaved. In Ireland, it’s usually seen as a taboo subject which is best avoided or dealt with in private. This information pack goes a long way to easing those fears by giving clear, concise guidelines on how workers and managers can respond in informed and compassionate ways to help employees who are bereaved.”

 Bereavement Training and Development Officer with the IHF, Breffni McGuinness added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the organisations who have helped with the development of this resource pack. Their input has been invaluable in developing much needed practical resources for the workplace and I have no doubt they will help many bereaved employees across the country. As one worker commented about the good support she received in her workplace when her father died ‘Do this well and you’ll never be forgotten.  Do this badly and you’ll always be remembered’.”

 The resource pack sheets can be downloaded from www.griefatwork.ie  For further information please contact Breffni McGuinness on 01 679 3188 or email breffni.mcguinness@hospicefoundation.ie




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