It’s time to get serious about your compassionate leave policy
The world of work has changed dramatically in the last decade or so: striking a good balance between professional and private life is now of the utmost importance for most people. This means businesses shouldn’t need to ask when they should consider being compassionate about leave policy, but rather why they should ensure their annual leave allowance goes over and above minimum legal requirements to allow for flexibility to cover an unexpected employee absence, along with compassionate leave.
Of course, not every company is in a position to offer what Facebook did back in
Nobody should be indirectly punished through loss of earnings when the worst happens. And bereavement isn’t the only situation that can arise and force people to take some time out from their working life. What about medical appointments, which by nature may be sudden and urgent? Similarly, domestic abuse victims may need breathing space to figure out how to get out of their situation, and then take the necessary brave steps to protect themselves.
In Australia, for example, there is now a mandate for unpaid leave in the event of domestic abuse cases. We say that’s far from enough, though, given financial and economic factors are often fundamental to victims not managing to escape the horrors of their circumstances. So, if the right steps are not going to be taken on a governmental level, then it’s down to company culture to plug the gaps as much as possible— as some are already doing.
Elsewhere, UK MPs have been piling pressure on the government for some time to amend the laws surrounding parental leave to make allowances for the care of premature babies. For fathers, two weeks is statutory when any newborn arrives, but in the event of the child being born significantly earlier than the due date, that timeframe may not cover their stay in
It would be nice to assume that all employers believed they had an inert responsibility to ensure annual leave, compassionate leave and any form of an unexpected employee absence was managed with empathy and understanding, not just with finances and working hours in mind. This simply isn’t the case, though, as numbers need to be crunched and efficiently monitored. However, to assume that managing leave in a just and ethical way is only an act of administrative philanthropy would be wholly misguided.
The impact of unexpected stress and trauma on work can be enormous, and so taking time out can be the only way for an employee to get find the headspace needed to process traumatic events and get themselves back on a level playing field. Only when that is done should they consider a return to their job.
This post on managing absenteeism explains the correlations between a
Ultimately, then, it’s really down to where the priorities lie. It’s our opinion that these should be with the people who are responsible for the success of a business – i.e. those on the ground, in the office or whatever the workplace is. Anything else is really tantamount to mismanagement.