What to Do When You Cannot Get Funeral Leave
If you recently experienced a death in the family and work for a company without a bereavement leave policy, you may find yourself unable to get time off to attend the funeral. Although most employers are understanding when a death occurs (especially if it was a close relative or immediate family member), it can and does happen that an employer denies a bereavement request or simply cannot give you leave at a particular time.
When this happens, people often feel resentment, anger, and frustration toward their employers. You might also experience an even greater sense of grief, since you won’t be able to experience the closure and comfort that a funeral service can provide.
Although there is no substitute for an understanding employer with a policy for bereavement leave, there are options available to you. Here is what to do if your employer won’t give you leave.
- Take Vacation or Sick Days: Many employers without bereavement policies will allow you to use your vacation and/or sick days in order to attend a funeral. Although this will cut in on your personal time off, it does allow you some flexibility in terms of travel, funeral attendance, and personal leave.
- Cut Back on Bereavement Time: You may feel that two weeks is a necessary amount of time to grieve your grandparent, travel to the funeral, and tie up loose ends before returning to work—and you are right. However, your employer may feel that it is an excessively long leave, especially without any advance warning. Instead of asking for a large amount of time off, consider prioritizing the funeral itself by only asking for one or two days. This will give you time to at least attend the funeral, and you can see to the more personal details on your usual days off or at a later date.
- Talk to Your Boss/Human Resources: Oftentimes, all it takes is one heartfelt conversation to get the bereavement time you need. It can be difficult for large corporations to understand how deeply a loss may affect you and your job performance. By sitting down with an actual person and explaining your situation, you can often get the time you need without causing a disturbance.
- Delay the Funeral: If you are one of the people in charge of planning the funeral, you may opt to have the deceased cremated and hold a large memorial service at a future date that works for both you and your employer. It’s not always ideal (especially if you are struggling with your grief), but at least this way you can attend to all the details of the funeral without worrying about what it will mean for your job.
- Attend the Funeral Virtually: It is becoming more common for funerals to be streamed online as a way for friends and relatives to “attend” when they cannot be there in person. Consider asking that a funeral be posted online or at least that an online scrapbook or website is created so that you can share your memories, chat with others, and express your support that way.
- Send Funeral Flowers: Many friends and relatives who cannot attend a funeral send flowers, a bereavement gift basket, or a sympathy card instead. This is a great way to show the family that you are thinking of them when you cannot be there in person. Although it may not help with your own grief, it can reduce some of the guilt you feel for not attending.
- Leave Your Job: We know, it sounds drastic, and not everyone is in a financial position to leave their jobs, but this can be a choice—especially if the grieving process is going to impact your job performance over the long-term. If you need to quit or take an extended leave of absence for your mental and physical well-being, then it may be the best move for you.