Bereavement Policy?

Imagine if you were told by your employer that you could not go to the funeral of a loved one? Imagine if that was because your boss didn’t consider the individual to be close enough to you? Take for example, you lose a friend, but the policy says family only and your annual leave policy requires notice you can’t give, as a result you are told you can’t attend their funeral. It might surprise you but it does happen.

It’s slightly crazy but I feel grateful I lost my mother-in-law whilst on maternity leave (3 weeks after given birth to be exact). I don’t feel in any way grateful for losing her, or for having to deal with it so shortly after giving birth, the reason I am grateful, because I wasn’t restricted by my employer as to how long I could grieve.

When my Father-in-law passed away I was working and I took a couple of days off. I rang in, spoke to my Manager, did what I needed to do.  I was in a role where I worked from home, so people couldn’t “see” whether or not I’d turned up from work.  My Manager didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t coming in, let alone why.  I accessed my emails from home and spotted the arsey emails from colleagues moaning that I wasn’t replying, that made me feel awful, I had to get back to work.

When I explained to colleagues they were sympathetic and helpful, they wished they’d known, so did I, keep repeating the story to explain myself wasn’t easy.

Families, love, friendships, relationships are individual, who we grieve for and how, is individual. Just because someone is further away on the blood line doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll grieve less.  Someone not being a blood or legal relation definitely does not mean I won’t grieve for them.

There are many employers who still believe grief can be dictated in a policy, many that judge others relationships by their own experiences. Remember we’re all human, leave your personal life at the door…it just doesn’t work like that.

This is without doubt something that should be tackled on a case by case basis, using discretion to deal with the situation presented. If it is abused, deal with the abuser!

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