Company tells worker to ‘take all the time’ she needs to grieve her brother. She had to go back to work in 3 days

@later_kates/ TikTok Pressmaster/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘Working in corporate America’: Company tells worker to ‘take all the time’ she needs to grieve her brother. She had to go back to work in 3 days

'3 days should be at least 2 weeks.'

 

Braden Bjella

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Posted on Feb 17, 2024   Updated on Feb 17, 2024, 12:47 pm CST

In the United States, only five states have laws that require employers to provide bereavement leave for their employees. Although companies in other states will occasionally offer bereavement as a benefit, many Americans find themselves having to dip into their PTO or sick days in order to actually be able to mourn for their dead relative.

Even at companies with bereavement policies, some have found the amount of days given as part of these policies to not be enough.

For example, in a recent video with over 4.1 million views as of Saturday, TikTok user Kate (@later_kates) writes, “Work: Sorry your brother died. Take all the time you need we have a generous bereavement package of 3 days.”

In the caption, she writes, “Working in corporate America.”

In the comments section, users shared their own experiences of going through the grieving process while on the job.

“After returning from my 3day bereavement, my work sent me to meet a new client. At the hospital my mom died at. I immediately put in my two weeks,” a user said.

“A coworker was punished for needing to leave work early on the 1st anniversary of her only child’s death due to breaking down crying,” recalled another. “I quit after that.”

“Had a family member pass and I got wrote up for performance issues because I couldn’t stop crying at my desk,” claimed a further TikToker. “it’s unbelievable how they treat us. I’m so sorry.”

A few users said they had to get creative to actually take the time off that they felt they needed to properly process their grief.

@later_kates Working in corporate America 🙃 #sibblingloss #greiving ♬ Little Life – Cordelia

“5 days paid bereavement when I lost my son. Used up all my PTO, but coworkers donated their PTO for me so I had enough for 1 month. Used FMLA as well,” shared a user.

“I had to file for short term disability in january after my dad passed, just so i could take time to grieve properly,” explained a second.

Others simply voiced their views on how companies could better help employees who are going through the grieving process, or how employees can take the time they need to mourn.

“3 days should be at least 2 weeks,” stated a commenter.

“You should apply for FMLA. You are entitled to do this once a year and it’ll be up to your company to approve how long you need,” explained an additional user. “I would also get a doctors note to back this up for documentation.”

FMLA is the Family and Medical Leave Act which “entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Daily Dot reached out to Kate via Instagram direct message.

Update 12:45pm CT, Feb. 17, 2024:

In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Kate clarified her video.

“I think it’s important to note that this wasn’t a dig necessarily at the company I work for. It was more me posing the issue for all companies,” she wrote. “I’ve been really fortunate and have the option of remote work and a very supportive manager. Additionally, I have all the leave options I need. It’s just hard to wrap my brain around ‘going back.’ Especially now after I’ve read so many heartbreaking stories.”

She also offered her thoughts on how companies could improve conditions for grieving workers.

“People definitely deserve time; however, the grieving process is slow and it’s understandable that companies can’t possibly accommodate for that. Most companies offer a policy of 3 days for immediate family,” she said. “Something my manager did was offered me some flexibility with my schedule and that was so helpful…I needed longer lunches so I could just cry. I needed to sleep in a little.”

“I think if a manager can, they should allow the employee to work remotely or offer them more of a private space to work in,” she continued. “Crying comes out of nowhere for me and I can’t imagine having to do that in a public space. Also reminding your employees of programs such as short term disability, FMLA, or even employee assistance programs. When you are grieving it’s hard to remember these things and having a manager on your side, rallying for your mental health is something we all deserve.”

She then discussed the conversation in her comments section.

“It’s heartbreaking. There is so much pain that we are unaware of. It reminds me to continue to be as kind as I possibly can every single day because you never know what someone is going through,” she stated.

“On the flip side there are those who are angry that I decided to film myself crying and I think that’s really interesting as well,” she added. “We share moments of pure joy all the time on social media; however, people have such an adverse reaction when they see someone experiencing a negative emotion. It makes me wonder how the world could be if we were more vulnerable with one and other?”

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*First Published: Feb 17, 2024, 8:00 am CST