Compassionate Leave

Angel of Grief / Weeping Angel
Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

An email popped up in my inbox today – “Sorry for the delayed response – I was away on compassionate leave.”

Huh? I’ve heard of bereavement leave but compassionate leave is new to me. I assumed it was just another way of saying bereavement leave  (for example, the military uses ‘compassionate leave’ for an emergency such as family sickness or death) but it also has another meaning – some companies use ‘compassionate leave’ in this way:

Compassionate leave allows for the transfer of vacation and sick days from one employee to another. The recipient of compassionate leave may use the donated time for paid leave in the event of personal illness or injury that prevents the employee from returning to work for a specified time period.  

This is a great concept! How many times have you needed extra paid time off from work to deal with medical issues? Now, it appears the terms of compassionate leave are pretty narrow but at least the option exists for employees who work for companies progressive enough to offer it as part of their benefits package. Most companies only provide three days of paid leave to employees who experience a death in the family. Three days to get over the shock, attend the funeral and compose yourself afterwards. You are expected to be ‘back to normal’ when you show up to work on Day 4. Sometimes you are even expected to check e-mail while you are away.

I know what you’re thinking…companies aren’t people (despite what Mitt Romney says). They are motivated by profits, they don’t have feelings and they don’t care if your father/wife/twin sons died in a fiery car accident on I-95. They need you to WORK through it! So I commend all those HR Departments that thought about creating compassionate leave – job well done!

Now try to get the rest of your compadres to make this a mandatory employee benefit. Yes, there’ll be resistance, derision and scorn at first. Just WORK through it.

Have you ever used compassionate leave?

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