two chairs in water at the beach, only one occupied and that is a woman Employers’ expectation that grieving workers be back at their desks and productive after a few days or a week is unrealistic and serves neither the employee nor the company.(Photo: Shutterstock)

Especially in the last few years, there has been a shift in the cultural conversation around employee benefits. As the pandemic continues to refashion our approach to the workplace, the workday, and work itself, policies like paid parental leave are becoming more commonplace. While the U.S. remains the world’s only industrialized country without a national paid family leave policy, inroads are being made on the state level, and many employers have responded to the growing call for adequate time off for new parents.

There is, however, an important aspect of family leave that is too often left out of this conversation, and which desperately needs to be addressed: bereavement leave. Like the birth of a child, a death in the family is a huge life event that affects every aspect of an employee’s world. It impacts their time, their state of mind, their productivity, even their health and wellbeing. And yet unlike the increasing support for parental leave, there is rarely any parallel discussion about what should be done for grieving employees.

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