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“So the question arises… Can all these employees take time off to grieve over Zayn leaving the band?”

Last week Zayn Malik announced he was leaving boy band One Direction. Young girls were devastated, as were many older women and men. Zayn left the band’s tour due to stress announcing a few days later that he was leaving the band to have the life of ‘a normal 22 year old’. It’s not the first time a popular boy band have had a member leave and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Many have been sharing thoughts and feelings over social media; you can’t miss it. Just after the announcement there were more than 4,500 tweets per minute.

Following this announcement (and you couldn’t make this up!) over 400 calls were made to an employment law firm as employees asked for time off to grieve over Zayn’s departure. Our reaction to this can only be summarised as ‘REALLY?!’ Forgive me for snorting rudely and thinking “Oh get a life”.

So the question arises can all these employees take time off to grieve over Zayn leaving the band? In short – no they can’t. The law entitles employees to reasonable unpaid time off to arrange and attend a funeral of a dependent. Zayne has not died, he is not ill. All he has done is left his job, he doesn’t qualify as a dependent either. And there is no right to time off to grieve.

A reasonable employer may allow a day of paid compassionate leave for the funeral of immediate family. This includes parents, partners, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren. For non-immediate family, including close friends, an employee may be granted a day of unpaid compassionate leave. There is no statutory right to take compassionate leave and any leave taken does not have to be paid. The death of family or close friends can impact on lives differently. Depending on individual circumstances additional unpaid leave may be granted to employees. This time off is usually taken following the immediate death of a loved one. Compassionate leave may also be granted when an immediate family member is terminally ill. Each case will depend on the facts.

As Zayn has not died, is not ill and many of the requests for leave are from people who are not related to him, it is very unlikely any compassionate leave will be granted in these circumstances. While some employees may be upset by the news, they will still be expected to turn up for work. One thing is for sure, Zayn will be remembered for causing the most upset when leaving a band.

We don’t do tissues and I’m fairly short on sympathy in these situations, but we do rather excellent HR.