Wigan widow in wage dispute

A Wigan widow has slammed employers for not giving her bereavement leave after her husband died.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 12:02 pm
Elaine's late husband, James

A devastated Elaine Bannigan was with her 60-year-old spouse James when he lost his battle to multiple organ failure on July 30 at Wigan Infirmary.

She had already taken a week off to be with him after he was taken ill and already had a holiday booked for the week after.

But after asking for bereavement leave from the Five Star Bakery on Stephens Way, Goose Green, where she has worked for the last year, she was told that she would have to receive holiday or sick pay.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Elaine Bannigan

Bosses of the company said today that they were in uncharted territory with dealing with a bereavement, took conciliation service Acas advice and are also thinking of reviewing the policy in future.

The 48-year-old of Sycamore Avenue, Golborne, said: “I couldn’t believe my ears.

“I had asked if I could take bereavement leave and they said they would go away and look at the manual. When they came back they said that Acas said that this was an issue for the manager’s discretion and that they had decided that I shouldn’t get it.

“Apparently there is some money I could claim but how long is that going to take? They could have at least given me the flat rate.

“The funeral was on August 12 and I am not planning to go back to work until after the bank holiday, I am that upset about losing James, but by then I will have used up all my holiday entitlement.

“I would have hoped they would have shown me more compassion than that. Give a girl some respect. They have left me high and dry.”

Five Star Bakery is run by brothers Steve and Kevin Barratt. Steve Barratt said: “We were terribly sorry to hear of Elaine’s bereavement and send her our deepest sympathies. There are only 16 of us in the business and have never had a situation where a member of staff has lost a partner before.

“When we were approached by Elaine we asked the lady who does the wages and she said the advice from Acas was that if you have a bereavement policy then act on it, but if you don’t, offer the staff member holiday or sick pay. We don’t have a bereavement policy so we gave her the two alternatives as suggested and she chose holiday pay.

“Now that this has arisen, we will look at a bereavement policy in future.

“I should add that as a business we have been struggling these last two years. I don’t want to get the violins out but the money has been very tight due to the pandemic and no Government money. Neither Kevin nor I have taken a wage since it began.”

Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here and viewing our offers.