The expression used when an employee must take a leave because of the death of a beloved one is Compassionate Leave also known as Bereavement Leave.
This leave is foreseen in law and it says that the employee can be absent, without being discounted , from 2 to 9 days of work, depending on the kind of contract he/she has (CLT or Public Servant) and also the relation to the deceased one.
The companies, however, can go far beyond a legal leave. When we lose someone dear, the care and support we receive have great importance in the grieving process. The company can, and must be part of this support net and help the bereaved one to go through this hard moment in the best way.
Here is a list of actions and positive attitudes that help the bereaved one in the work environment:
1- Informing and giving orientation to the employees about a loss of a coworker’s beloved one: companies must give guidance to the teams about how to receive a coworker who has lost someone. Coworkers tend to be uncomfortable, some of them even avoid meeting the person because the subject must be hard. It is essential to warm up the coworker appropriately: don’t avoid the person, look at the person in the eye, listen, offer to help, to talk, to hug; these are very positive attitudes. However, people must avoid: asking the bereaved one to be strong, not to cry, not to talk about the subject or saying that the person will be ok. These advice DON’T help even being filled with good intention;
2- Anticipating vacation: in case the employee needs a couple of days more because he/she still has difficulty to go back to work, anticipating vacation can be better than having a medical leave.
3 – Allowing the bereaved one to attend lectures, grieving support groups, extended to the family. The company may set some flexible hours if the bereaved one has to be absent for attending these groups;
4 – Temporary moving areas: For cases in which work is directly connected to touchy relationship matters with people, such as Human Resources or Costumer Relations for instance, in which the circumstance of the bereaved one may influence performance; or when position requires many trips in a moment when the person needs to be closer to the Family. These moves must be previously set and the bereaved one must be comfortable with them..
5- Recommendation of support texts: the company may recommend and provide readings related to the subject;
6- Availability for home office work: for cases where this model is possible, it can help the employee to solve problems in order to feel good to return to the routine. This flexibility can help a lot in cases such as the case of an employee who, for example, lost his mother who took care of her children.
7 – Flexible working hours in the first month of the loss: it allows the person to change, no cost to the employee, and it will make it easier for the person to reorganize routine and personal life.
8 – Funeral assistance: it can be an amount in cash, or participation in the costs of funeral and burial costs, cemetery or crematorium. Or providing a funeral assistance plan for all employees;
9- Legal assistance for the preparation of postmortem documents (certificates, retirement and insurance): these practical issues become complicated in the turmoil of the grieving process. Receiving proper guidance helps a lot.
10 – Emergency psychological care: it is very important that the bereaved one count on any network of professional support and the company can offer, financing or recommend available experts or services.