Employers should still ensure couples are covered by group risk policies, says GRiD
The UK government has committed to changing the law to allow opposite-sex couples form civil partnerships by 31 December.
At present, same-sex couples can convert their civil partnership to a marriage, enabling them access to a state bereavement support payment if their partner dies. This will be extended to those in opposite-sex civil partnerships.
In a next steps policy paper the government outlines its plans for extending eligibility and the range of rights and entitlements that should be made available to opposite-sex civil partners. It also seeks views on the future of conversion rights and whether opposite-sex married couples should have an opportunity to convert their relationships to a civil partnership.
The maximum amount currently payable to a bereaved spouse or same-sex civil partner is a lump sum of £3,500 plus up to 18 monthly payments of £350. However, according to MAPS, the average cost of a funeral in the UK is £3,757 and average earnings in the UK are £2,466 a month (ONS).
While welcoming the government's plans, group risk trade body GRiD has highlighted the remaining importance of group life cover for couples through policies through lump sums which on average pay out £114,691 per claim.
"It's good news that more couples will be entitled to state bereavement support, but there's so much more that employers can offer," said Kathryn Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD. "When you compare the financial support that can be provided by the state to what can be provided by group life assurance policies, the difference is huge.
"Group life assurance is the original group risk product, and the financial and emotional support that it provides makes all the difference in the world to those that need it. Now is a good time for employers to review their employee benefit packages and make sure that group life assurance is on that list."
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