Bereavement in the workplace can be challenging to manage. Employees may need to take time off unexpectedly, find their performance is diminished or they may not be able to perform certain responsibilities. While bereavement leave is not mandated (except in the State of Oregon), a compassionate approach is appreciated and can help build commitment, reduce absence due to illness, and retains the trained professional.
The amount of leave needed may vary according to several variables:
- Distance to the funeral
- Responsibility for funeral and estate arrangements
- Relationship between the employee and the deceased.
Grief can be unpredictable and may be different for different people. It’s important for people to recognize this and try to be as supportive as possible.
Bereavement leave allows an employee to receive paid leave because of the death of a close relative, friend or associate. It generally is treated as a separate benefit from other types of paid leave.
The following bereavement leave regulation updates are important to keep in mind when developing or updating a bereavement policy:
1. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Oregon will become the first state to require certain private-sector employers to provide bereavement leave to their covered employees. See Oregon Becomes First State to Require Bereavement Leave.
2. The California legislature has passed, but governors have vetoed, several bills requiring employers to grant employee requests for up to three days of bereavement leave.
3. A bill known as the Parental Bereavement Act that would amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow eligible employees of covered employers up to 12 weeks of leave one year following the death of a child was introduced in Congress in 2012 and reintroduced in 2013.
Coping with the loss of a close family member or associate can be difficult for the employee; having clear guidelines and policies can help make it easier for everyone in the workplace when difficult decisions need to be made.