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Bereavement leave

Bereavement leave

Bereavement leave meaning

Bereavement leave, also known as compassionate leave, refers to the time off from work that an employer allows an employee to take in the event of the death of a close family member or, in some cases, a close friend. 

The purpose of this leave is to give the employee time to grieve, make funeral arrangements, and handle any other related matters.

How long is bereaved leave?

As the law does not specify it, it is up to the company to decide the number of days for a bereavement leave. 

At Pazcare, it is 5 days and if there’s any other paid leave, employees can club and take it. Some companies offer 3 days, some offer 7 days and some companies even offer one month for close family members.

Is it mandatory by law in India to provide bereavement leave?

No, the law doesn’t specify. It is up to the company and the HR team to provide it.

What to include in a bereavement leave policy?

Here are some components that you might consider including in a bereavement leave policy:

Purpose and Scope

Start with a brief introduction that explains the purpose of the policy and to whom it applies.

Eligibility

Define who is eligible for bereavement leave. This often includes full-time employees, but you might also specify rules for part-time, temporary, or probationary employees.

Definition of "Family": Clearly define who is considered a close family member. Commonly included relations are:

Immediate family: Spouse, children, parents, siblings.

Extended family: Grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins.

In-laws: Parents-in-law, siblings-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law.

Step-relations: Step-parents, step-siblings, step-children.

Others: Domestic partners, significant others, or close friends. Some policies allow for leave for any individual whose relationship with the employee is akin to a family relationship.

Duration

Specify the length of the bereavement leave. This might differ based on the relationship to the deceased. For instance, more days might be allowed for the loss of an immediate family member compared to an extended family member.

Paid vs. unpaid

Clearly state whether the leave is paid or unpaid. If it's paid, specify if it's at the full rate or a different rate.

Procedure for requesting leave

Provide a step-by-step guide on how employees should notify their supervisors or HR, how soon they should do it after the bereavement event, and what documentation (if any, like a death certificate or funeral program) might be required.

Concurrent leaves

Explain how bereavement leave interacts with other types of leave, such as personal or medical leave.

Additional support

 Mention any additional support services provided, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which might offer grief counseling.

Extension

Detail the process if an employee requires an extended period of leave beyond the standard bereavement leave duration.

Religious and cultural considerations

Recognize that grieving processes and funeral rites can vary widely based on cultural and religious practices. Consider allowing flexibility in the policy to accommodate these differences.

Return to work

Offer guidance on the process for returning to work, ensuring a smooth transition back and considering any temporary adjustments that might help the grieving employee.

Confidentiality

Assure employees that information related to their bereavement leave will be kept confidential, with only necessary parties being informed.

Review

State that the policy is subject to periodic review and may be updated as necessary.

Ways to extend bereavement leave

Leverage other leaves

Consider combining your bereavement leave with other types of leaves you might be entitled to, like:

Earned/Privilege leave (PL): This is the standard annual leave provided to employees.

Casual leave (CL): For short durations, usually for unforeseen situations.

Sick leave: If the emotional impact of the bereavement is affecting your health.

Leave without pay (LWP): If no other leave options are available, consider requesting unpaid leave.

Flexible work arrangements

If it's challenging to be completely away from work for an extended period, propose a flexible work arrangement. This can include part-time work, work-from-home options, or adjusted hours for a certain duration.

How managers and HRs should handle an employee on bereavement leave?

Handling an employee's bereavement leave request requires sensitivity, empathy, and discretion. When an employee is grieving, the support they receive from their workplace can make a significant difference in their healing process. Here are some guidelines for managers and HR professionals:

Respond with empathy: Begin with an expression of condolences. Be genuine and avoid being overly formal or distant. 

Prioritize well-being over work: Understand that the grieving process is personal and varies for each individual. Work should come second to the employee's well-being during such times.

Be flexible: Grieving doesn't follow a strict timetable. Some employees might need more time off than others, depending on their relationship with the deceased, cultural practices, or personal coping mechanisms.

Clarify policy and procedure: If the employee is unfamiliar with the company's bereavement policy, gently guide them through it, outlining the number of days allowed, whether it's paid, and any necessary steps they should take.

Minimize administrative burdens: If your company requires any documentation, ensure the employee understands, but try to keep the process as uncomplicated as possible. Remember, they're already dealing with a lot.

Provide resources: If the company offers counseling services or has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), inform the employee. These resources can be valuable during the grieving process.

Manage workload: Discuss how the employee's responsibilities will be managed during their absence. This might involve redistributing tasks among team members, getting a temporary replacement, or postponing certain tasks.

Maintain privacy: Respect the privacy of the grieving employee. Share details only with those who need to know and avoid discussing the situation with others unless the employee has given explicit permission.

Check in: A day or two before the employee is scheduled to return to work, consider reaching out with a simple message to let them know they're in your thoughts and to ask if they need any specific accommodations upon their return.

Back to work: When the employee returns offer flexibility, such as a phased return or modified tasks. Avoid overwhelming them with work immediately upon their return.

Recognize individual needs: Remember that everyone grieves differently. Some may appreciate being surrounded by colleagues and diving back into work, while others may need a quieter, more gradual return. Open communication is key.

Encourage team support: Without violating privacy, gently encourage the team to be supportive. 

Monitor and support: The effects of grief don't necessarily end once the bereavement leave is over. Continue to check in on the employee's well-being periodically and be prepared to offer further support or flexibility as needed.

Frequently asked questions

Is bereavement leave paid in India?

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Bereavement leaves are commonly paid leaves. However, it is best to check the leave policy of your company.

How do you apply for bereavement leave?

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Every company has a different procedure set to apply for leave. It is advised to check your leave policy to understand how to apply for a certain type of leave. In general, the employee must inform their reporting manager and HR over an email. If you have an HRMS platform, you can also apply for leave from there.

How long do you get for bereavement leave?

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The law doesn’t specify it. So it is up to the company to decide how long bereavement leaves should be. Generally, it is between 3 to 7 days. It is advised to check the leave policy or contact the HR in your company. 

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