Ok, I take it back.  The Acas Guidance on partners’ rights to accompany a pregnant woman to antenatal classes no longer contains the most pointless piece of official employment relations advice I can ever recall (i.e. that men have no right to attend antenatal appointments) http://www.employmentlawworldview.com/antenatal-guidance-for-men-leaves-uk-employers-unmoved/.   

Its short-lived place at the top of that particular tree has been taken by a line in Acas’ new Guidance on Managing Bereavement in the Workplace.  This is generally a very worthy publication, rightly stressing the sensitivity of the topic and the need for an employer to be flexible in relation to the varied and unpredictable reactions which employees may have to the loss of a colleague or family member.   The Guidance touches very properly on the issues which may arise when there are religious observances to be respected and on the possible inter-play between bereavement and the flexible working and disability regimes.   

However, you really do have to question what terrible past experience the draftsman at Acas must have suffered in order to warrant the inclusion of the advice to managers that they should “ensure the bereaved employee knows they (sic) are not expected to work on the day the death has taken place”.   Are there really employers who would do anything other than look at this and laugh?   

In the sad world of work-related bereavements, however, this does at least finally trump the particularly rabid suggestion made to me by a client in the 1980s that an employee’s taking time off for a family funeral should be pleaded in the Employment Tribunal as clear evidence of his lack of dedication to his work.  What was he supposed to do – video the funeral and watch it later?  Come on, get a grip.  

You can find the new Acas Guidance here http://www.acas.org.uk/bereavement.