Bereavement leave policy

Ideas for creating and implementing a supportive policy for those who have experienced a loss. Resources about clarifying the details of leave and implementing the policy are included.

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A bereavement leave policy that is understood by all employees before a loss occurs can help to reduce the stress of uncertainty for both the manager and the bereaved employee.

Policy elements

A clearly stated bereavement leave policy should specify:

  • Length of the leave – Some organizations allow 3–5 days for a relative or partner and 1 day for someone who is not related.
  • Eligibility based on relationship (domestic partner, parent, step- parent or foster parent, child, sibling, in-laws, etc.).
  • If the leave is paid or unpaid.
  • If the leave includes terminal illness or only applies in the event of death.
  • Other conditions such as eligibility based on length of service or collective agreement.
  • Name and contact details of who should be notified when bereavement leave is required.

Implementing the policy

Implementation of the bereavement policy should include:

  • Legal review of the policy, if appropriate.
  • Regular reviews by management to ensure the policy remains relevant.
  • Training for managers on how to respond when notified of a request for bereavement leave.
  • Communication of the policy and key messages to all employees, including senior personnel.
  • Providing a copy of the policy to all new employees upon hiring or transfer.
  • Acknowledgment in writing or by e-mail from all employees that they have received and read the policy and/or amendments.
  • Posting of the policy and/or amendments prominently in a place where all employees will see it and have regular access to it.
  • Instructions to all managers about what is expected of them in carrying out the policy. Where necessary, provide training or education.
  • Annual discussion between managers and their staff about this particular policy.

See also Grief response for leaders.

Additional resources

Loss and grief. Learn about the responses to grief and ways you can cope after the death of a loved one or another significant loss.

Sample bereavement leave policy provided courtesy of Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

Contributors include.articlesMary Ann Baynton

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