According to the Society for Human Resource Management 2016 Paid Leave in the Workplace Survey, most private sector companies offer the same basic bereavement befits: four days for the death of a spouse or child; three days for the death of a parent, grandparent, domestic partner, sibling, grandchild or foster child and only one for the death of an in-law or extended family member. You will usually get no leave at all for the death of a friend or colleague. While these are better benefits than many people get (only 60 percent of private-sector workers get paid time off for a death), for those who have lost someone close to them they don’t come close to being enough.
What More Can Employers Offer?
Some larger corporations have taken a stand against this traditional policy. Facebook now offers its employees 20 days of bereavement leave in the event of a family member’s death and MasterCard also recently announced that they are increasing their bereavement leave policy. Some companies have taken it a step further and allow employees to take as much time off as they need. Some argue that this costs the company less money in the long run as employees are only returning when they feel comfortable and ready to work.
While we would all love to be able to offer unlimited bereavement leave, for most small practices this is just not possible. You can however make some small changes that can help make the loss of a loved one easier to manage.
Additional Bereavement Benefits
Donating vacation time. If you are unable to offer an employee unlimited time off to deal with a death, you may try allowing other employees to donate their extra PTO to them. This allows the grieving employee to take off the time they need without having to deal with the financial hardships that would go along with taking the time off unpaid.
Encourage a doctor’s note. If the employee is unable to handle coming back to work in a reasonable time, you can suggest they get a doctor’s note. This would enable you to put them on family medical leave or short term disability.
Create an Employee Assistance Fund (EAP). Employees at your practice are given the option to donate to this fund, which is only used to help those with funeral expenses, medical bills, housing costs or any other financial setbacks related to the death. While the EAP is funded by employees, most employers will match up to $500,000. Employees apply for assistance and a third party is tasked with reviewing all applications and awarding the money.
As you see, even if you are not a Fortune 500 company, there are still ways to go the extra mile for your employees in their time of need.