Bereavement Leave


My father-in-law, Walter Ruettimann, passed away, this morning. He was in his 70s and was feeling much better after a recent dip in his health. Unfortunately, Walter was doing some work around the house and fell off a ladder. He died from injuries sustained from the fall.

I wrote about Walter when The Happy Employee challenged me to write about a world without HR.

  • My father-in-law was never really sure about how I earned my paycheck because he saw the function of Human Resources in its infancy — back in the days when it was called PERSONNEL.
  • Walter was part of a generation of Americans who worked for one company from the day he graduated college until the day he retired.
  • Walter great stories about working in Manhattan, traveling around the country on business trips, and enjoying multiple-martini lunches with executives. It was old school stuff, and it was amazing to hear how Corporate America operated before employment lawyers, internal audit groups, and HR departments.

When Walter worked in Corporate America, the HR department was made up of two groups: the men who managed the unions & the women who managed the personnel files. If you had a problem with your boss, you didn’t go to your HR representative. You went to your boss or you found another job.

I know I spend too much time in the HR blogosphere because I immediately thought of Mike Haberman’s post about safety awareness and emergency response teams when I heard about my father-in-law’s accident with the ladder. I hit the Google to understand more about ladder injuries, and it turns out that the internet is plastered with information, safety tips, and videos of people falling off ladders. Holy crap, dudes. Ladder accidents injure 200,000 people on an annual basis. Who knew?

The husband is on bereavement leave over the next couple of days and I’m holding down the fort with the kitties. At my old company, bereavement leave for the loss of a parent was one week. Some people took the entire week, but most people returned to work after a couple of days just to focus on something other than the mourning process. What’s the policy at your company?

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