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Does your company have a bereavement policy?

Published on January 7th, 2020 by Triton Benefits & HR Solutions

When one of your employees experiences the death of a loved one, will you be there to support them? If so, how? Being the employer in this situation can be difficult, since your response will directly impact your relationship with that worker. If you don't show empathy by giving them time off, that could seriously hurt you and your company's image.

Establishing a clear bereavement policy will minimize this risk. If you're thinking about introducing a bereavement policy, or are currently reassessing the one you have in place, here are some factors to keep in mind:

More employers are implementing bereavement policies

If you don't already have a policy in place, you're in the minority. According to a 2019 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management, 89% of companies have a bereavement-leave policy, which is almost a ten percent increase in the last four years.

In other words, most U.S. employers allow their employees to take paid time off when a loved one dies. So if you're one of the few that don't, now might be the time to change that. As far as the policies themselves go, some companies are more generous than others.   

Most policies are viewed as too restrictive

There are two main controversies when it comes to standard bereavement policies:

1. The definition of "loved ones": If the deceased is a member of the employee's extended family, such as a cousin or aunt, there's a good chance the bereavement policy won't apply. Close friends are often excluded as well. Many argue that these terms are too rigid, given the fact that they don't consider the close relationships employees have outside of their immediate families. In response, certain companies are broadening their definition of "loved one," providing more bereavement freedoms to their employees.     

2. The amount of PTO: A lot of companies only give their employees three days off after the death of a family member. Not only is this not enough time for most people to comfortably grieve, but it's also not enough time to deal with the logistics of someone's death. Workers need sufficient bereavement leave in order to travel, plan funerals and handle relevant legal procedures. For these reasons, progressive companies like Facebook and Adobe have recently added more PTO days onto their policies.

Working is more difficult for grieving employees

If you don't support your employees immediately after the death of a loved one, you might see their job performance decline as a result. People often struggle to focus, even on menial tasks, during times of grief. It's common for workers to behave unlike themselves, making mistakes like leaving their laptop at home or missing a meeting.

Providing your employees with optimal bereavement leave will help them get physically and mentally back on track. Plus, they'll appreciate your willingness to support them. Your empathy and understanding will make your employees feel more valued and comfortable in the work environment you've created.

Millennials care about bereavement leave

Workers in their 20s and 30s tend to communicate personal conflicts to employers more commonly than older generations. As a result, the bereavement policy issue is more likely to come up. After all, millennials are gradually taking over the workforce.

So if bereavement leave is important to the future generation of workers, it should be important to you, the employer, as well. You can't stop dark times from coming, but you can prepare for them. As the leader of a business, you want your employees to feel confident that you'll be there for them when it matters most.

Interested in learning more about bereavement policies? Connect with us at Triton today!

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