1)  What is bereavement leave?

Bereavement leave is a kind of leave that an employee can take when generally a close relative or someone they know has died. An employee can use this type of leave for a variety of purposes, inclusive of making funeral arrangements, attending a funeral, taking care of post-death rituals, and grieving. As of now, there is no federal law that states that employers must mandatorily provide bereavement leave. Said that, many employers/organizations do offer benefits to their employees, and the duration of the leave depends on organization policy, specific contract agreements, or collective organizational bargaining agreements. Employees can use this leave to make arrangements, or attend a funeral, and can mourn the loss of a loved one. Even though many employers offer their employees bereavement leave, there is currently no federal law requiring this type of leave. In simpler words, the time took off work by employees, irrespective of paid or unpaid, following the death of a closed one. Organizations differ in how they are with bereavement leave. Some organizations will only allow a day or two in order to make the necessary funeral arrangements, etc, while other organizations may agree to give several weeks off, particularly for close relatives such as parents and children.The death of a closed one can be tough to go through. When an employee loses a closed one, offering bereavement time off can give your employee time to cope. Employees can use this leave to make funeral arrangements, attend the funeral. Bereavement leave promotes a productive work environment because it gives employees time to recover from their losses.

2) What is bereavement pay 

Bereavement pay is known as the payment an employee gets when he/she takes time off after a closed one/relatives, family member or friend dies. Those entitled to this pay are usually when an immediate family member of the person has died. This period is provided so that the deceased's family member can help arrange and attend the funeral and have some time to recover with death and some grievance. While each organization is different, the usual allotted time for bereavement leave of absence from work is three to five working days.

3) What to include in an organisation's Bereavement leave policy?

Amount of time off-

This depends on the organization as it differs from every organization to the organization. Normally, the length of bereavement time off is three to five days. But, organizations can offer more or less time off. It can also provide varying amounts of time off that depend on the employee’s relationship to the deceased, how involved the employees are in making arrangements, and where the funeral is, depending on if in hometown or native. 

When can employees use this leave-

The organization gets to decide when employees can use bereavement leave. It can allow employees to use this type of leave only for immediate family members (for instance, parents, siblings, children). But it depends if the organization want to grant the employees to  use this  leave for extended family members (for instance, aunts, uncles, grandparents, in-laws, close friends, etc.)  It is the responsibility of the organization to make it clear beforehand to the employees.

Pay during leave

The organizations can pay employees during their bereavement leave, though no law says it is mandatory. The organization must decide if it wants to pay employees during the leave. It might also want to create a special pay rate, like half the employee’s regular wages, these factors completely differs and depends from organization to organization.

Eligibility to take leave

Organization can create a policy that only allows employees to use bereavement leave only after they have worked for you for a certain amount of time. For instance, an organization can create a policy that allows only employees to use bereavement leave after they complete 90 days of work.

Notification of leave

An organization must make an option where an employee can notify his/her team about when he is going to take this leave or if he is taking the leave right away. Or, it should give their employees an after-hours way to contact his/her team so that everyone are notified about the absence and no work is stopped.This will also help in the Organizations absence management.

Proof of leave

Organizations can ask employees to prove that they used their leave for bereavement purposes. It can simply ask its employees to provide the details with the name of the deceased, date of death, city of death, and relationship to the deceased. These documents will prove that someone did unfortunately die and that the employee was not seeking time off for a mini-vacation.

Special requests and exceptions

Organizations can allow employees to make special requests regarding their bereavement leave. Perhaps employees need extra time to travel or to meet with lawyers, in some case or the employee has to travel far for the processions to be done. It is the responsibility of the organization to make it clear if they don't practice no-exception policy. 

Policy violations

Organizations must have certain guidelines to follow if in case an employee violates the bereavement leave policy. For instance, the organization may decide to suspend an employee for a leave violation.

Creating the best bereavement leave policy

Perks of owning a small business is it gets to know its employees well. Owners understand their needs and often know parts of their personal lives. Only this type of organization knows how to create the best bereavement leave policy that will not only keep business running but also give its employees time to grieve.

If you enjoyed reading this, you will surely love dig in this interesting blog on  Employee Retention

4) How to devise and implement a policy on bereavement leave

All the policies on bereavement leave must be written into the employee's handbook. This will ensure employees who are faced with a bereavement don’t have to have any awkward conversations and know what to expect. Managers will also be clear if there is a policy on bereavement and won’t have to make difficult decisions on the granting of leave.

It is important to incorporate an element of flexibility into any bereavement leave policy and ensure managers are in a position to deal with requests for additional time off sensitively. Not all employees will grieve in the same way and there should be a range of choices on offer to employees to enable them to cope most effectively with their situation and return to work.

The key is to personalize the process and talk with bereaved employees to agree with a plan that suits best for them. It should include some paid time off from work, as well as the possibility of a phased return with remote working or reduced hours.

Bereavement leave is commonly relied on by the relationship between the employee and the person who has died, with immediate family considered to be the qualifying criteria for the full amount of bereavement leave. But the loss of a friend or even a pet can be just as devastating. This is a challenge for employers who are keen to get the balance right and it's why there needs to be an element of flexibility in order for employers to address each case individually.Typically, compassionate leave in the UK is 3-5 days long for the loss of an immediate family member (spouse, civil partner, partner, sibling, and children), 2-3 days for less close relationships for instance grandparents, grandchildren, step-parents and 1 day for in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This isn’t very generous considering death in the family may involve travel, dealing with affairs and organizing a funeral, as well as attending the funeral itself.

Businesses need to consider the impact of stingy compassionate leave on long-term commitment and productivity. A balanced, supportive and flexible approach is best for both employee and employer.

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