Bill would expand FMLA to provide bereavement time to parents

Tony shared [url=]an interesting article[/url] with me this morning that discusses a new bill that is in the earliest stages of proposal, the "Parental Bereavement Act of 2011."

The bill would extend FMLA's 12 weeks of unpaid leave to cover parents who have lost a child.

It seems like a no-brainer to me, especially given the emotional aspect of the situation and the genuine hope and expectation that few employees would ever actually need to rely on the protection this bill would provide.

I know many companies already provide bereavement leave, often around 3 to 5 days, but I presume that special circumstances such as this would be handled on a case-by-case basis currently, which presents a difficult conversation and situation for both the employee and HR.

So I could see this bill actually making things easier for HR in not having to negotiate days or hours in such a delicate situation.



  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I definitely support this....I think a parent losing a child is a very specific circumstance that warrants more than 3-5 days bereavement leave, and this proposed bill would definitely eliminate the need for some of those difficult conversations at an already difficult time.

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but.....bravo for FMLA???? =D>
  • Based on the doctor's notes that cross my desk, I cannot imagine that any employee would have a difficult time getting an FMLA certification for that. I have a current employee who was on FMLA for that situation shortly before I got here, and a former employee who lost a child and left us shortly after her FMLA expired. I'm surprised this bill is needed.
  • I don't know that I am for extending this or not. How can you put a time limit on it? 12 weeks is not enough, but what would be? I worked for a place that had so many employees lose children that it became a scary place to work as you never knew who would be next. None of those parents ever fully recovered or returned to their pre-loss state. I can think of at least one that was better off because she had to go back to work. It is a terrible thing to witness, much less experience. I can't see how anyone can decide how much time is enough. Good employers will go the extra mile whether the law allows it or not, and bad employers will find a way to be difficult either way.
  • I have to agree with Frank. :-O Depression could be considered a serious health condition.

    What about employees who lose a spouse? Employees who have no human children, but treat their pets as if they were their children? Why does every thing have to be legislated? Common sense should apply in these situations.
  • Admit it Joannie. You agree with me more often than you like. Certainly more often than you agree with Paul.

  • [quote=ACU Frank;723247]Admit it Joannie. You agree with me more often than you like. Certainly more often than you agree with Paul.


    I agree, Frank. OMG! Twice in the same thread . Are you my long lost brother?:p
  • [QUOTE=joannie;723248]I agree, Frank. OMG! Twice in the same thread . Are you my long lost brother?:p[/QUOTE]

    Don't demean yourself Joannie. It's one thing to agree with someone, it's another to claim you are related. :)
  • After my son died, I only took part of three weeks off. This was for two reasons: one was that I was the ONLY person here at that time who could do the payroll so I came in for a few hours on several days to make sure it got done. The other was because I needed the normalcy of coming in to work...after all the memorials and the funeral were over and my husband went back to work, sitting around the house alone all day was the absolute worst thing for me. The company would have allowed me to take as much time off as I needed, but for my own sanity I needed to get back to my normal routine.

    On one hand, I agree that it shouldn't have to be legislated, and that a good company will allow however much time off a person may need without them having to fear losing their job. On the other hand, we all know that not every company will be caring and compassionate unless the law tells them they have to be.

    I'm not sure what to make of Nae's statement that "none of the parents ever fully recovered or returned to their pre-loss state". Maybe I'm overly sensitive on the subject, but to me that implies that once someone has lost a child you would expect them to somehow be diminished or less capable. In some cases I'm sure this is true but I would stress that employers should never assume that grieving any major loss is a "one size fits all" situation that requires a certain amount of time, or that it is the same for any two people. I had co-workers and even family members who thought for years that a huge meltdown or depression on my part was inevitable. Losing a child was the worst thing I could imagine ever happening to me, but I survived, recovered, and gained the knowledge that I am a far stronger person than I ever would have imagined.
  • cnghr

    You ARE a strong person and a wonderful role model for those of us in the HR field, and for those who don't know how to go on after a tremendous loss. Thank you for your first-hand contribution. You are much better able to judge the situation than we are.

    The people I referred to were very capable, and we never had a problem with an employee who had suffered such a loss. I did not mean to imply otherwise. But they were changed. They each reacted in different ways, but they never returned to their pre-loss state. Who could? After all, having a child changes you. How could losing one do any less?
  • I too like Cngr 5 years ago, after losing my husband of 41 years needed to return to work for normalcy. In retrospect I returned way too soon against my doctors advice to take FMLA, however, I needed to have something else to focus on other than the grief. My employer was very understanding even when my focus was not all there or I had to leave a hour after arriving to work, but there are others that may not be so keen on granting extended leave without the FMLA coverage for the loss of a child or spouse.
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