Monthly Archives: March 2015

How fair is your bereavement policy?

I’ve been exceptionally lucky in my personal life lately. One of those things that makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world is also challenging me and everything in my life. Growth is a good thing.

A lot of what I have been learning about is Jewish culture. Most people have heard how the iconic and amazing Leonard Nimoy has died. Mr. Nimoy was Jewish. For those who aren’t aware, immediate family sits shiva to mourn and honor the dead for seven days. Most companies have three (maybe up to 5) days for bereavement. If you need more than that time, you have to use PTO.

Is that fair? Is having more days – and not using PTO – a religious accommodation? How is that fair to other non Jewish employees that have to use PTO for more than three days?

Why should someone have to use PTO for taking time they need to mourn an immediate family member? PTO has many purposes, and lets be frank – it is to help the employee deal with life as well as relax to return to work refreshed. Why be frank? Because mourning is not something that given time can allow one to return to work refreshed and rejuvenated to really kick butt at ones job.

It would be interesting to do a survey and find out how this situation is handled by many companies and under the law. I would love to see the data on bereavement policies, how often they are utilized, how often employees need more time, and how things differ based upon geographic location, industry, and org size impact things? How does employee age or religion impact their needs? How does location impact with regards to employees that live long distance from their family?

If any one knows of any studies done that address any of these, I would love to be pointed at the findings.

As Fran stated in her piece that inspired me to speak up, “[t]he policy, which looked great on paper, is now nonsensical and soulless.” When one is mourning you aren’t thinking about much of anything or have much energy; I am willing to bet very few fight companies on crappy policies and religious accommodation.

Sure, companies are in the business of making money. But, you need people to do a billion tasks to build that bottom line. Maybe some policies, like bereavement, should be looked at to help employees be their best for the company; including taking time to mourn.

Image found via Google Image search. Copyright Amy Strycula.