The need for a sick leave following the death of a family member is very individual. Some people need an extended sick leave to be able to work again, while others want to return to work very soon. Returning to work often helps with recovery because it signifies a return to “normal life” after a crisis.
It is good for an employer to encourage and support a bereaved person in returning to work. Still, on the other hand, it is important to show understanding towards any absences.
The employer must ensure that the bereaved person has access to occupational health services and that the sick leaves are agreed upon together with the employee and occupational healthcare. The bereaved person’s own experience of their own working capacity is in a critical position.
A sick leave requires a diagnosis from a physician. Unfortunately, temporary incapacity to work caused by a loss often leads to incorrect diagnoses of depression.
Employers should consider practices for enabling an employee to be absent, for example, during palliative care. For the possibility of the palliative care of an employee’s family member, it is worth having a valid principal decision in place at the workplace on how to proceed in such situations because the need for palliative care in Europe is anticipated to increase in the next few years according to Duodecum’s Current Care Guidelines website, which also offers more information about palliative care.