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January 03, 2011
Bereavement in the Workplace: What You Can Do When an Employee Dies

As an HR professional, the issue of bereavement policy comes up during the course of the job. However, sometimes the issue of bereavement enters the workplace through another door. It is not an employee’s loved one who dies, but an employee himself or herself. What can you do in these instances to assist the employee's family and other employees during the bereavement process? Here are some actions you can take:

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  • Communicate the news about the death of an employee to co-workers as well as customers, vendors, and others outside the company with whom the employee worked as soon as possible. If an employee dies on the job, wait until the family has been notified to tell others.
  • Express your sympathy to the employee’s family.
  • Assist the family with any details associated with the deceased’s employment. For example, you can help the deceased’s family get the benefits that are due them by referring them to the proper person in the HR or benefits department.
  • Have a co-worker clean out the employee’s desk, workstation, locker, etc., and return personal belongings to the family.
  • Handling requests from employees for time off to attend a co-worker’s funeral must take into consideration such issues as the relationship between the employee and the deceased, the employee’s position and length of service, and the number of employees requesting time off.
  • You and your employees will probably also wish to make some kind of appropriate gesture of sympathy, such as a card to the family signed by all co-workers and a collection for flowers or a charitable contribution.

The above information comes from BLR’s presentation “Bereavement and the Workplace.” For more information on all the training courses BLR has to offer, go to our Employee and Manager Training page.

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