Bereavement Leave: HR and Loss

When the call comes, it’s an unexpected call. It’s the kind of call that you would dread getting in the middle of the night at 3 a.m. because you already know when you pick up the phone it is going to be bad news.

I was the unfortunate recipient of one of these calls last month and it really opened my eyes to the issues surrounding bereavement and how frightening these situations can be. How a supervisor or HR contact handles this situation could be critical to how the relationship between employee/employer progresses years into the future or create a sour note that envelopes the entire relationship.

To give some background, my family resides in a completely different country. I got a call saying my grandmother was very ill but they didn’t think I would make it in time. After receiving this upsetting news, I immediately looked for flights, called my supervisor to explain the situation, and took the 14-hour flight the next day. I was gone over a week and a half.

How should an HR professional handle something like this?

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