For employees

Accidents, death of loved ones

The Labour Code obliges the employer to grant unpaid leave of up to 5 calendar days to allow the employee to attend the funeral of a deceased family member. While that much time may be enough to organize a funeral, finding a balance between work and mourning the loss of a family member is much more difficult.

It will be impossible to completely avoid your work responsibilities

It may take a long time to come to terms with your loss. When family members are in danger or pass away, your work commitments seem unimportant at that time, however it is unlikely that you will be able to completely avoid them during the mourning period. And avoidance would generally not be the best solution, since work provides the opportunity to divert your thoughts from your grief, at least for a short time. However, it is important to understand that your emotional pain will not go away simply because you get back to work. Even the smallest things, such as a movie mentioned by a colleague, a familiar smell, a day of the week that was important to you and your loved one, and so on, can trigger painful memories. All of this can be expected, so you should think about what kind of work environment would help you the most.

When you return to work, you are likely to notice a change in the behaviour of your co-workers, for example, closer colleagues will no longer come to your office to chat the way they did before your loss. Try to forgive them for this in advance. Death makes everyone feel uneasy, since this subject is still avoided in our society, and we never know how to conduct ourselves when the inevitable happens. There is no right way to mourn a beloved family member, nor is there a right way to express support to a friend or colleague who has lost a loved one. The intentions of your colleagues are most likely good, they just simply do not know how they could or should help you. Fear of behaving inappropriately in an extremely difficult situation can lead to passivity and coldness.

Depending on the size and culture of the organization that you work in, the awareness of employees of your loss can also vary greatly, so it’s best to take the reins into your own hands. Think about what kind of behaviour you would like to see in your colleagues. Would talking about your loved one give you a sense of comfort, or vice versa – do you want as few conversations about your loss as possible at work? Either way, you can send a letter to all your colleagues thanking them for their understanding and indicating what kind of support you would like to receive at this time.

Do not try to hide your pain

It is possible that in order not to become a burden to your colleagues, you will try to work harder to prove that you can overcome your emotions. Mourning exhausts people and affects them both emotionally and physically, therefore be forgiving to yourself if you can’t perform a large number of tasks or maintain high quality results for a while when you return to work. Be open with your employer and ask for help in order to get back to your normal routine. Perhaps, when you start to feel your emotions rise, you need to take a twenty-minute break from work from time to time without having to notify your immediate superior? Maybe it would be easier for you if you could work remotely for at least part of your workday? If you are open with your employer, this will help him or her better understand the reasons for changes in your work results and make optimal decisions.