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Should there be paid leave for death of spouse child?
Are current entitlements sufficient?

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34 replies to this topic

#1 Overtherainbow

Posted 07 February 2013 - 10:58 PM

I've had two friends pass away at a young age and two other aquaintances become widowed with young children.  I've seen them try and struggle with their grief, their children's grief and also have to work out how to survive financially.

One was a SAHP and had to fast track her training to get into the work force.  Others have found thye just can't cope and have quit their job and struggled financially, finding it difficult to re-enter the workforce at a later stage.

I've watched a colleague have to try and work through his pain and grief and while the business has supported him, I struggle with the fact that we can supply 1 year paid maternity leave but those who lose their spouse or child are not given the same grace.

Should there be a system in place, aside from private death insurance, to provide some time for people to grieve before having to return to work?

Please ignore stupid errors, I'm beyond exaustion atm and am typing tired.

#2 LK1

Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:05 PM

I am not sure about the idea, but I know that when my Dad passed away I took 3 weeks off (unpaid) and I don't even remember that time, it was so stressful.
I can't imagine having to work during that time, I can't say I would have been efficient or even safe to be in a workplace.

#3 wenchwitch

Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:19 PM

I think it's a good idea but am concerned some people would take advantage if it was law. Where is the line drawn? Parents, step sibling, step parents, siblings, cousins. I think by setting "requiremts" of spouse or children some people who are grieving will miss out" and others take advantage.

It would be great that employers show compassion based in individual circumstances and in the couple of cases of anecdotal situations I know this has happened ( although I realize there must be many who don't get this consideration)

I don't know what the solution is but it is fraught with many problems sad.gif

#4 EmAyEm

Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:25 PM

No, i think the onus should remain on the family to ensure they are adequately insured.  Otherwise, where do you stop?

#5 countrylivingmum

Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:38 PM

Yes I think there should be some kind of support for at least 2 months but saying that it should only apply if its a child or your spouse.

#6 Lightning_bug

Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:41 PM

The problem with making it law is that some people can take a week, some a month, some years... you can't legislate that.

Some employers have leave without pay provisions which recognize that life is complicated.  It's important to familiarize yourself with what your employer has to offer.

There are safety nets, in the form of disability and sickness allowances, should the death result in depression or other medically recognized issues.  So it is there, just in a more specified way.

That's why it's important to have adequate insurance, to have income protection and to think about the unthinkable.

#7 Expelliarmus

Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:50 PM

My employer has bereavement leave - I saw it on the form I filled out yesterday. I don't know how long you can take though. I recall it said 'for immediate family member' on it. So spouse, parents, children and siblings.

So it does exist under some work agreements already. In what capacity though, would vary I am sure. I think people who have taken bereavement leave have usually taken LSL as well to extend it a bit.

Edited by howdo, 07 February 2013 - 11:52 PM.

#8 SplashingRainbows

Posted 08 February 2013 - 03:28 AM

I'm not sure who in Australia is entitled to twelve months paid maternity leave? I don't know of anyone who gets more than twelve weeks from their employer - and that is for either public service or large business employers.

Small business rarely have the funds to offer paid maternity leave, although they must keep the position available for 12 months (with extensions available).

In relation to supporting the bereaved I think the better system is to ensure everyone has life insurance as part of their superannuation. There are very few employees now who don't get super and this way all businesses contribute the same. I would like to see harsher penalties for those employees who don't pay super on time which has in the past resulted in the insurance component of the fund being cancelled. I would also like to see it become harder for super funds to cancel life insurance in these cases. Often the employee doesn't know there is a problem, or isn't in a position to do anything about it. They can't exactly force the employer to just pay up - there are usually cash flow issues causing the lack of super payment by the employer.

I do think you have a point about bereavement of children - but I think we should cater for that through Centrelink rather than employers. As nice as it is for business to pay, not all businesses could afford to do so. It really is much harder running a small business than most people think.

I have no problem with higher taxes being paid to support people in this way.

#9 Frockme

Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:44 AM

Who gets 1 year of paid maternity leave??? I would have liked to have known this earlier!  happy.gif

#10 SusieGreen

Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:57 AM

I don't believe it should be paid by an employer.  I also don't think a persons job should be in jeopardy if the time is taken off though (though I acknowledge that this is also fraught with difficulties). This is where insurance is key.

QUOTE (Malaya @ 08/02/2013, 06:44 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Who gets 1 year of paid maternity leave??? I would have liked to have known this earlier!  happy.gif

Me original.gif

#11 MrsLexiK

Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:58 AM

That is what life insurance is for to help financially when a spouse dies.

I have bereavement leave of a few days and I used some AL I had last year when my bereavement leave was used up.

Centrelink does help with some pay as I have seen it on the website. If your child is over 2, (and hasn't had a major illness) you can have trauma and life insurance for them as well. (Though I don't recommend any trauma inside super unless you are 63 years old)

#12 barrington

Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:01 AM

QUOTE (Overtherainbow @ 07/02/2013, 10:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Should there be a system in place, aside from private death insurance, to provide some time for people to grieve before having to return to work?

For people already on income support payments or everyone?  Because I can imagine the drama of dealing with centrelink when you are not registered with them, in an emotionally fragile state, to be the opposite of helpful and supportive.

#13 RCTP

Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:35 AM

I think, as someone who has lost a child, that workplaces should be more compassionate toward the bereaved in general, not just with leave entitlements.

I wasn't working at the time but went back to work 4 months after my son passed away.

I still struggled just in a different place (work as opposed to home) and it is more public - sometimes you need to hide away and have a cry - some days you don't want to interact with people and many things can trigger strong emotions.

I think sometimes the mechanics of having to go to work, get up, get dressed, go somewhere for a purpose gives you something to do and think of other than your loss.
BUT it is always there and no, you don't "move on" or "get over it" - they are just phrases people bandy around the bereaved as they are uncomfortable with your grief.

Workplaces and bosses need to educate themselves on how to help their employees who have endured losing a child or spouse.

#14 KT1978

Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:44 AM

Yes. Some time off paid or unpaid.

Insurance might help, but it can be months and if you have to quit your job to get time to grieve, that's pretty poor.

#15 Shellby

Posted 08 February 2013 - 06:58 AM

Our workplace allows 1 week paid bereavement leave for parents, spouse's parents, siblings (including ILs) or children. The its 3 days bereavement for aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins - which includes ILs. Also for the first one, if they are admitted to hospital knowing they may die you get another 3 days paid.

Do I think its enough, umm no, if DH died I would need more than a week - that is why both of us have high life insurance with the idea that who is left won't have to worry about running back to work if they find they can't. We have enough to cover all debts including the house, renovate the house and could go not working for many years before worrying about money.

As for unpaid leave, if my Dh was to die I know my job will be held for me until I feel I can return or I start working somewhere else. I know some people don't get that luxury.

#16 -Emissary-

Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:07 AM

I think there should be but how do you determine how much a person's need and how much is enough? I think we should be able to use sick leave.

I think I would be utterly devastated if any of my immediate family died and unable to work. I'm not a person who lets personal matter affect me during work but I don't think my mind would be quite right either.

I do think it would be in the business's best interest to also let me take an extended leave if they value me as an employee AND not have me there not in the right mind frame and potentially making all sorts of errors etc.

#17 IsolaBella

Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:12 AM

I know my old office supported (with leave) a co worker whose child had a difficult time with cancer eventually passing. From memory he had 6m leave without pay at the time.

#18 Juju38

Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:14 AM

Re the 12 month paid maternity leave, one of my friends has that entitlement at a University.  She also gets 50... yes 50 sick days per year!

#19 MintyBiscuit

Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:20 AM

QUOTE (SplashingRainbows @ 08/02/2013, 04:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm not sure who in Australia is entitled to twelve months paid maternity leave? I don't know of anyone who gets more than twelve weeks from their employer - and that is for either public service or large business employers.

I got 14 weeks, and I was working for a mid size employer. Many employers are getting there, and I know of plenty of people who have had 3-6 months.

QUOTE (Sassy Girl @ 08/02/2013, 07:15 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
After having gone through the death of my sister I would say paid bereavement leave is actually more important than maternity leave.

I've had a few periods of bereavement leave in my working life, though fortunately none for a spouse or child. Sometimes paid, sometimes not, and sometimes a mix of both. I've been fortunate enough to encounter pretty compassionate employers, and on the odd occasion my direct boss has been a bit iffy I've put my foot down and gone above their heads. Bereavement leave is important, but I have to disagree with the idea that it's more important than maternity leave.

Grief is such a personal thing, so as PPs have said there's no way to really say how long you need, or who it applies to. My MIL's death was harder for me to deal with than my grandfather's death for various reasons, and both were more difficult than the death of my father. But my previous workplace's bereavement leave only had written provisions for immediate family (although I negotiated to take that time when MIL died). Family dynamics are so different for everyone, and the way a death occurs can change things hugely - is it an unexpected accident, or a long drawn out illness? Would those facing a relative with a terminal illness prefer to take the leave prior to death, and would that mean that those who face a sudden death get less leave? It's impossible to draw a line.

Maternity leave, or paid parental leave through the government, is there to help with a situation which is pretty universal. It's generally considered that it's best for a baby to be with their primary carer in those early months of life, and that is why maternity/parental leave is there. It also allows women of child bearing age to actually be employed and hold onto jobs they may not otherwise be able to hold onto. While I'm sure there would be situations where bereavement would lead to job losses, I'm sure they're a lot rarer than pregnant women or new parents losing their jobs even with the legislation in place.

I'd like to see a bit more bereavement leave in general leave provisions, whether it be paid or unpaid. Realistically anything more than a week paid would be pretty impossible for most businesses, and even that long would be stretching things. Talking about months of leave is really up to the individual, and as PPs have said it's why life insurance exists.

#20 Julie3Girls

Posted 08 February 2013 - 07:30 AM

I think longer bereavement leave for the case of a spouse or child. I know my workplace tends to be 3 days for family in general, with more for immediate family. Mostly at manager's discretion.
It would be nice to see that longer particularly for close family.

But if you are talking about months etc, then no, I don't think you can expect an employer to fund that. UnPAID leave ... Yes. You then have insurance to cover yourself financially, knowing that you can come back to your job in a month, or 6 months.

#21 Lightning_bug

Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:23 AM

QUOTE (RCTP @ 08/02/2013, 06:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think, as someone who has lost a child, that workplaces should be more compassionate toward the bereaved in general, not just with leave entitlements.

Some employers are outstanding.

In my case the employer has 5 days bereavement leave, which isn't much, but it's designed to be enough to allow you to apply for other means of leave.  Annual leave; sick leave and you can put in an application for Lifestyle Leave which is for serious issues in the family and up to 12mths unpaid leave.

You can't put all workplaces in the same basket.

I've seen my managers turn themselves inside out to accommodate people.  They've provided flexible hours and provided support to attend the Employee Assistance Program (counseling).

In some ways it is covered under OHS and if someone is not providing the support necessary or giving attitude about necessary leave, when you are entitled to it, that's bullying and should be taken further.  There are protections against bullying in place (although i find them thoroughly ineffective).  Perhaps rather than just for issues of bereavement the systems to ensure fair workplaces should be more effective.

#22 SeaPrincess

Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:33 AM

QUOTE (~*Twilight~Zone*~ @ 07/02/2013, 10:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Howdo in most agreements bereavement leave is only 2dys

Mine is 2 days also, but I don't think it specifies how close the relationship has to be.

Our experience has also been that different employers will go beyond what is written in contracts, although we've never had to deal with this particular issue.

#23 steppy

Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:52 AM

My workplace is also good with this. I don't think it is covered in awards enough, no. I think it's 5 days or something. Often people need months. I think there should be an option to take a couple of months at least.

However, I do think it would have to be restricted to family (immediate family - like parents and siblings), spouses/partners and children. Grandparents only if they were in a parental situation with the bereaved.

Edited by steppy, 08 February 2013 - 08:53 AM.

#24 Soontobegran

Posted 08 February 2013 - 08:55 AM

Just wondering if this is where carer's or family leave comes into play? We could have 3 days of bereavement leave but then could stay away for as long as we needed but we used our sick/family/holiday/LSL to keep afloat.
Nothing worse than feeling pressured to get back to work before ready for financial reasons.

QUOTE (SplashingRainbows @ 08/02/2013, 04:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm not sure who in Australia is entitled to twelve months paid maternity leave? I don't know of anyone who gets more than twelve weeks from their employer - and that is for either public service or large business employers.

All my DD's received more than 12 weeks paid maternity leave, one who is a university lecturer had 6 months on full pay or 12 months on half.
The one who works for a large business employer had 9 months off on full pay and then got paid bonuses for coming back to work before her maternity leave officially ended.

#25 Goggie

Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:05 AM

QUOTE (Lightning_bug @ 08/02/2013, 09:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Some employers are outstanding.

In my case the employer has 5 days bereavement leave, which isn't much, but it's designed to be enough to allow you to apply for other means of leave.  Annual leave; sick leave and you can put in an application for Lifestyle Leave which is for serious issues in the family and up to 12mths unpaid leave.

You can't put all workplaces in the same basket.

I've seen my managers turn themselves inside out to accommodate people.  They've provided flexible hours and provided support to attend the Employee Assistance Program (counseling).

Agree with this. I have seen businesses offer people the opportunity to use their sick leave, use carers leave to spend time with a terminally ill family member, offer part time or reduced hours to ease people back into work after grief, offer months of leave without pay and be very flexible upon return. I have worked for large white collar employers and most have been fantastic in these types of circumstances. Granted, not all of the time is fully paid but there is a genuine effort to support the bereaved.

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