The case for updating bereavement leave policies

Why it should go beyond additional time off.

By Kacey Larsen      
Bereavement leave policy updates

The push for paid family leave policies in the U.S. has garnered more attention over the course of the pandemic, with many employers taking matters into their own hands in lieu of a national policy. But, as Ron Gura, co-founder and CEO of Empathy, points out in an article at Benefits Pro, bereavement leave is typically not part of the conversation.

While many organizations do offer time off for grieving employees, it usually only adds up to a few days and some have limits on the relationships that are covered, such as immediate or extended family. Gura writes, “Employers’ expectation that grieving workers be back at their desks and productive after a few days or a week is unrealistic and serves neither the employee nor the company.”

A comprehensive bereavement policy should recognize that grief has no timeline, Gura advises, and, while additional days of paid leave are a start, a change in how bereaved employees are treated when they are back to work is also important. This could include flexible schedules, a plan for when and how an employee may need collaborative support from their team, situation-relative evaluation policies and manager training on effective communication and best practices.