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”.