A death in the family can invite a multitude of logistical, financial, and administrative tasks. Many people suddenly find themselves as executor, planner, or mediator. This combined mental, emotional and physical labour is tremendous.
This is doubly true if the employee also cared for the loved one. Bereavement leave provides much-needed relief during this time. Also, remember that you're not alone - bereaved employees deserve to be supported and appreciated.
This article defines the intricacies of bereavement leave and covers all vital points of the policy.
Did You Know?
In India, there is no fixed law for Bereavement leave. Employees are granted paid time off from work in the event of the death of a family member. Employees are entitled to up to seven days of paid leave if an immediate family member dies (parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, children, and in-laws).
What is Bereavement Leave?
Bereavement leave is time off from work to attend a funeral or mourn the loss of a loved one. Many organisations adjust the amount of leave according to the nature of the loss. Also, some organisations determine how long bereavement leave is based on the relationship between the deceased person and the worker.
Immediate family members include spouses, children, and stepchildren. In-laws and stepchildren should also be included in this leave, but there are no specific regulations regarding the length of such leave.
If your employer allows you to take a period off, be sure to notify human resources of the need for time off. Depending on your relationship with your loved one, you may need to provide other documentation to prove that the deceased died.
For example, a prayer card, a funeral program, or the name of the deceased's family member may be sufficient. As soon as possible, inform your employer that you will be away from work for a time of bereavement.
Do You Need a Bereavement Leave Policy?
Bereavement leave is a legal term referring to a period in which an employee is not allowed to work. It covers a period after the death of a loved one and is often granted for three to five days.
Some companies will even give additional time off for unpaid bereavement leave. If you're unsure about whether your company has a bereavement leave policy, it's important to check with your HR department.
Whether you should offer bereavement leave is up to you. Many employers have no formal policy, but the right one could make all the difference. A bereavement leave policy should spell out exactly what will happen when an employee becomes unemployed.
A policy can be as simple as granting time off during an unplanned period. On the other hand, it can be as complex as requiring a week of unpaid leave to deal with the death of a loved one.
What Are the Reasons Employers Grant a Leave of Absence for Bereavement?
Employers provide bereavement time as they realise the importance of showing compassion by taking care of their employees' emotional well-being in the aftermath of loss.
If an employee is recently grieving the loss of a parent or a close friend, they will likely be too distraught to deal with immediate work obligations.
Instead of stressing them further by requiring them to work in the same situation, it's usually the best option to give them adequate time off. It will help them deal with their sorrow and cope with the loss.
With a caring and thoughtful method, managers can establish a positive environment where employees feel that they are appreciated and respected. In the end, this will allow the company to attract and retain talented employees. Also, it will help the company compete in its field and attain long-term business success.
Is It Compulsory to Provide Paid Time-off for Bereavement?
There's no definite rule that requires companies to provide paid time off to employees suffering from grief. But, the majority of companies provide bereavement leaves as a distinct category of leave. They also treat it just as sick time or vacation time, thus making it a pay-per-hour leave.
If the employee has exhausted the time allotted to them, they need to consult with their supervisors, and it will help them to talk about leave or use the sick time off.
Bereavement leave is a paid time off from work, but employers aren't legally bound to follow any rules concerning this issue. Bereavement leave is generally thought of as unpaid time free from work.
What Should You Include in the Bereavement Leave Policy?
Are you confused about what you should include in a bereavement leave policy? Companies often offer a 3-day leave for any death in your family. However, you must include in following reasons to make a bereavement leave policy applicable:
- Attendance of a memorial service or funeral
- Arrangement of a memorial service or funeral
- Resolving matters of inheritance
- Personal mourning
- Fulfillment of your family obligations
Creating the Formal Policy Document
Now that you know what bereavement leave meaning is, let’s understand how you can create a formal policy document. The presence of a formal policy place will make it much easier for employees to request bereavement leave. Besides that, they don’t have to understand the process. This also shows your employees they have procedures in place to assist them in times of grief.
When you're creating your policy documents, you should begin by examining the following
- Which employees qualify for leave: If your company employs unionised and contracted workers, it is necessary to determine which employees will be suitable.
- Time period: The policies with permission for any granted days to five should be present on the company's policies. However, you must define specific conditions under which employees can take additional days. For example, in case of the death of a spouse or child or when the employee needs to travel elsewhere to attend the funeral.
- Bereavement leaves eligibility: The criteria for eligibility for bereavement leave is the type of family member who has died.
- Procedures for employees to request bereavement leave: It is possible to determine what methods of communication an employee should use, and the details they have to supply.
- The leave can be paid/unpaid: Be clear about which employee will be entitled to paid days off and how many grieving days are paid.
Who Is Considered to Be an Immediate Family Member for Bereavement Leave?
The family typically consists of parents, spouses, siblings, children or spouse, and (unmarried) domestic partner or guardian. Some employers even allow employees to have a day to rest. However, it will only be applicable if an employee loses their uncle, aunt, cousin, or close family member.
It is also advisable to provide the employee with a leave period when they lose their pet. The advice here is to pass the details on to the manager in charge, who can make the right decision.
What Happens if an Employee Wants to Ask For More Leave Than Stated in the Company’s Policies?
Certain employees might request more days of bereavement leave. This will happen when they have to travel elsewhere to attend the funeral or have lengthy religious services to take part in. Also, there might be other reasons like they have funeral arrangements responsibility to manage.
You may also suggest that the employee avail of other time-offs that are either paid or not. It will help prolong their time of mourning and ensure that the paperwork is completed.
It's okay to let the HR department or the line manager handle the situation on a case-by-instance basis and remain flexible by the regulations.
How Long Can Bereavement Leave Last?
The length of the bereavement period depends on many variables. The most frequent distinction between kinds of leave depends on the relation between an employee and the person who died.
Most of the time, employees are entitled to at least three days of bereavement time. This is to mourn the loss of a close family member. This can include children, spouses, siblings, parents, and grandparents. Many companies provide at least two weeks of paid leave or possibly additional time as a benefit that is not paid. There may be a restriction on unpaid bereavement time.
If you don't have immediate family members. It is standard to get at least one day of paid leave, though some companies offer more. Many companies also provide an hour-long, short leave for attending the memorial or funeral ceremony of a colleague.
Time is crucial when grieving. It's not easy to manage emotions when you are an integral part of your work. Also, having to suppress significant life events. Also, personal issues can negatively impact your well-being both in the short and long term. Each employer can offer bereavement time. Even if an organisation can only pay for 2-3 days, then it could be generous.