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Bereavement leave: How long is long enough?

Philip De Ste Croix

Recent news revealed that Facebook has doubled its bereavement leave policy for employees. The new policy entitles bereaved staff members to 20 days paid leave, to allow them time to mourn the loss of an immediate family member. Article from Philip De Ste Croix for Damsons Future Planning.

Having provoked a huge debate on social media, people are asking; is 20 days long enough? Accounting for almost 10 percent of the working year, many professionals believe that 20 days is too excessive and is unlikely to be adopted by other businesses, but are they missing a trick? A company that puts staff welfare first stands to attract great talent, and keep it. Applying only to the loss of ‘immediate’ family members, Facebook’s policy opens another debate as to what counts as immediate family.

Every family is unique and it’s impossible to categorise levels of attachment. Some people might not be close to their parents but be extremely close to their in-laws or extended family.

For business owners and senior members of staff, managing a bereavement at work isn’t easy. Business leaders must juggle the needs of the business with doing what’s best for the employee.

For many, returning to work can be a positive distraction and a chance to regain routine. However, if pressured back into work before they are ready, there is a chance that the employee won’t be very productive and it may even cause a delay in the grieving process, so how can business calculate the length of paid leave? Policies should be flexible and scalable to accommodate each individual’s circumstances.

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