Bereavement Leave

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about leave for bereavement:

Most offices have a policy allowing one week off for immediate family bereavement. Our office indicates it is only once a year. How should a double death be handled if both parents died close to the same time?

Signed, Wondering about bereavement leave

Dear Wondering about bereavement leave:

Most offices have a three day bereavement leave for immediate family members, although some provide longer leave time and some provide none, except on a case-by-case basis. No matter how it is handled, the issue of bereavement leave is that someone has lost a relative, loved one or friend, through death. The ceremonial activities surrounding a death require time and often, travel. Even if no ceremony is held, a grieving person needs a few days to get through the initial feelings.

The amount of time allowed off is rarely enough for close family members who often have a great deal to handle during the time after a death, so the three days is often combined with other leave. Logic would indicate it would be foolish for a company to have a once-a-year usage policy. Death is not that tidy and scheduled! Many companies provide the three days for each loss, even if the losses occurred together, such as in a tragic accident, with the thought that funerals, family meetings and so forth are required for each person.

Most people only use a bereavement leave one or two times in their lives and will not abuse the use. The rare occasions when that might happen are not worth the morale issues of limiting bereavement time. If an employer thinks an employee is abusing the system, the matter can be considered more closely. There is no law about it, so adjustments can be made, unless there is a union contract or some other signed agreement. Put “bereavement leave” in your internet search area and you will find many specific leave policies. Best wishes.

Tina Lewis Rowe