Bereavement Time and Employees

I welcome opinions on the issue below.

My company offers up to three bereavement days. The employee manual reads as follows:

“At some time, most people face the tragedy of the death of a loved one. So that you will know in advance that we share in the bereavement, we would like to provide time off so that you may be with your family. The purpose of this policy is to ensure a reasonable amount of leave to attend the funeral. A regular employee shall be entitled to three days off with pay.”

It goes on to describe the relationships included in this policy.

One of my employee’s husband past away last week. It was not a shock. He was ill for many years in a nursing home being treated for Alzheimer’s and complication resulting. She took one day off to take care of the arrangements of the body. There will be no funeral. I approved a bereavement day for that day.

This morning I received a request for two more days a month from now so that she can “be with her family”. She requested they be paid under the bereavement policy as well. I am not sure this is reasonable request.

So I appeal to you, Dopers, for opinions. Should they count as bereavement days or as vacation days? Please feel free to ask other questions. Thank you for any advice or opinions on handling this sensitive issue.

It was her husband. Give her the two days and pay her for them. Maybe instead of a funeral they are planning a get-together in a month.

It’s funny, I was just trying to find out my company’s policies for bereavement for just the same reason as your employee seems to have. My father is very close to death right now, and I’d like to be able to be with my mother when the time comes. However, we will not have a funeral right away; his body will be cremated, and we’ll have a memorial service sometime later. I would like to take a day or two for that as well.

I wonder if this might be the situation for your employee. I think that she should be able to use bereavement leave for this. It certainly doesn’t sound like much of a vacation to me.

I would absolutely grant the days under the bereavement policy.

It is the same amount of time that you would have allowed plus it does fit some rough definition of bereavement. I think you would be a bad person if you denied it. Is she salaried? That would make it even more of a sure thing to me.

They should be bereavement days. One day is ridiculous. When My dad died I was essentially off from work (I am self-employed BTW) for four months while I dealt with his estate.

So, the policy doesn’t specify the days are only granted concurrently? It seems like the second and third sentences contradict one another in this case. She wants to be with her family, which is what the second sentences intends, but there will be no funeral, which is the intention of the third sentence. So which is it? Is the intent to allow the employee to attend a funeral or be with family? Are those clauses dependent on each other?

I would allow the three days whether taken separately or together. My husband’s family has delayed funeral services as part of their tradition- sometimes as long as a year. I don’t think it should matter much when she takes the days.

I’d absolutely let her take them as bereavement leave. This is a slightly unusual kind of bereavement, and maybe this is a better way for her to deal with it than taking the three days straight away (which you would have allowed, no?). It sounds like she wasn’t exactly in shock at the death, so she didn’t need the three days to get her head sorted right away, but she obviously does need them.

The only difference is that, as this isn’t urgent in the same way that immediate leave would have been, I’d ask her to schedule it around any huge work stuff that comes up next month. Like if you have some big deadline on the 15th, I’d ask her not to take the 14th or 15th.

A lot of times family has to come in from out of town, which necessitates travel arrangements. If there’s not a funeral, they can’t get special rates from the airlines, so everybody’s juggling rates and dates. It’s a lot of work for everybody, and if you can spare her, you would be a good boss.

Definitely grant her the two days. Nothing says they have to be taken consecutively, and people mourn differently.

It may be that they are holding a wake for the family members who couldn’t get to the actual funeral.

I would allow them. The family may be using this time to go through possessions or do paperwork. The death of a family member is not only painful, but very time-consuming.

Oh my god, give her the days! Employers are so stingy. My employer gives me five bereavement days (and I took all five when my mom died) and I am sure I could take them non-consecutively if need be.

The policy says this:

we would like to provide time off so that you may be with your family. The purpose of this policy is to ensure a reasonable amount of leave to attend the funeral.

Funeral, yes, but also “time off so you may be with your family”. This would fall under that heading.

This and thrice this, it will make virtually no difference to the company and every difference to her. It’s about time ‘companies’ starting behaving like reasonable, caring colleagues and not slave owners.

Good grief, why is this even a question?

Of course she gets the extra two days as bereavement. Frankly, as it’s her husband, adding an extra 2 would be reasonable.

Three days for a granny or uncle or cousin is reasonable - I think extending it to a full 5 for your life partner is the minimum I would consider appropriate.

Of course I live in Communist Cannuckistan so I may have warped ideas about such things, but the fact that this is even a question makes me roll my eyes.

Her husband has died and you are dithering over giving her two measly days to spend with her family? Holy crap.

No brainer. Of course they should be considered bereavement days.

Yep, give her the time. This is even a question?

And three days is nothing. We get three paid days and can take up to an additional 7 paid sick days. Absolutly needed if you have to fly or drive accross the country to make arrangements.

At a previous (American) employer, a colleague had to take vacation time to grieve for a family member, because she and her long-term, own-a-home-together boyfriend were not married. See, the bereavement policy says “spouse”, “parent”, “child”, etc. No matter that she’d been with him for close to twenty years and neither wanted to do the “marriage” thing again after being divorced. Apparently not legit enough to get time off to mourn his death.

Everyone donated vacation hours for her to use, but even then, HR were dicks about it, claiming at first that it was against policy because it wasn’t for an illness. A supervisor finally talked sense into them, thank goodness.

OP, don’t be a dick. Give her the time.