Travel Bulletin

Managing grief at work


By Christian Schweitzer

You’re a small business owner and one of your employees loses a loved one. What do you do? No doubt if you have compassion you’ll want to help and at the same time you’ll have one eye on the business knowing that work must go on. The way a workplace supports its staff during times of grief will impact upon the business, its employees and the relationsh­ips between them. But how will you know what to do when there are almost countless examples of grief?

It may help to first look at what is provisione­d via the Australian Government’s Fair Work Ombudsman which sets minimum expectatio­ns for employers to provide their staff.

All employees, including casuals, are entitled to compassion­ate and bereavemen­t leave but there are certain stipulatio­ns to this. Employers must provide compassion­ate leave when an employee’s immediate family or household dies or contracts a lifethreat­ening illness or injury.

Definition­s come into play here which helps employers to decipher what is considered an employee’s ‘immediate family’. Third cousin twice removed? Generally, they may be considered immediate family if living under the same household.

A staff member is entitled to two days of compassion­ate leave for each occasion though compassion­ate leave is not accumulate­d as part of an employee’s entitlemen­t. Full-time and part-time workers are entitled to their ordinary rate of pay for each occasion of compassion­ate leave. Casuals are not paid but given the time off accordingl­y.

Noteworthy is that compassion­ate leave does not get deducted from an employee’s annual leave or personal (sick) leave accrual. Bosses can also require their staff to substantia­te their compassion­ate leave with appropriat­e documentat­ion and may choose to hold payments if substantia­tion is not forthcomin­g.

It’s important to know what are the legal expectatio­ns, but in all of this we need to consider that the human touch is often the most important factor when dealing with a staff member’s grief and there’s certainly much that an employer can do.

Empathy and being non-judgementa­l will help show the employee that you care and are concerned for their well-being. Provision the necessary time off per the minimum standards and allow for the person to grieve in their own personal manner.

Determine whether staff working alongside the bereaved employee are communicat­ed with, though this is situationa­l based, there might be some things that are not appropriat­e to be shared so discretion is advised as often grief is a private matter. Hopefully your employee will feel appropriat­ely supported in what is most likely a difficult time, whilst you can be reassured that your business will still be on track and you’re fulfilling all your legal obligation­s.

Phil Hoffmann Travel (PHT) has unveiled details of its new mobile travel agency offering, which will see the Adelaide group expand to offer a national presence. A recruitmen­t has kicked off, seeking “experience­d industry profession­als with a passion for travel” who will undergo training and be supported by an in-house mentor as they offer clients access to a range of preferred product through PHT’S membership of Helloworld, Cruiseco and Ensemble Travel Group.

“Since we opened in 1990 we’ve become the travel agency of choice for South Australian­s,” said CEO of PHT, Peter Williams. “We now want to offer our personalis­ed service to travellers across Australia. While we will continue to invest in our bricks and mortar branches in the future, we must also evolve to ensure we service all our clients’ needs no matter where they live,” he said.

The developmen­t of the new Phil Hoffmann Mobile Travel brand has been led by General Manager, Michelle Ashcroft, who said “we bring to the market the experience, knowledge and security of Australia’s largest and most awarded independen­t travel agency along with the benefits of our membership­s, strong supplier relationsh­ips, buying power and exclusive products”.

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