Facebook doubles bereavement time for employees

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Facebook is widely known as a benefits innovator, thanks to a host of enviable perks and generous paid parental leave for employees. Now the company is solidifying that role even more by doubling the amount of time employees receive for bereavement.

The social media giant said this week it is expanding bereavement leave to 20 days (up from 10 days) for an immediate family member and 10 days for an extended family member. The company also is expanding family leave up to six weeks to enable employees to care for sick family members.

The updated benefits policy was announced publicly this week in a Facebook post by Sheryl Sandberg. In it, the company’s COO referred to her own experience of losing her husband, Dave Sandberg, in 2015.

“Amid the nightmare of Dave’s death when my kids needed me more than ever, I was grateful every day to work for a company that provides bereavement leave and flexibility. I needed both to start my recovery,” she wrote. “ … I know how rare that is, and I believe strongly that it shouldn’t be. People should be able both to work and be there for their families. No one should face this trade-off. We need public policies that make it easier for people to care for their children and aging parents and for families to mourn and heal after loss.”

Sandberg — noting that employees are more committed to their employers when they offer valuable benefits —called on companies nationwide to make similar enhancements to leave policies.

“At a time when nearly nine of 10 working women in the United States have no parental or family leave, women make 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, and there’s no system of national paid leave, companies need to step up and lead,” Sandberg wrote. “I hope more companies will join us and others making similar moves, because America’s families deserve support.”

Only 60% of private sector workers in the United States get paid time off after the death of a loved one, Sandberg said, and “usually just a few days.”

Global chemical company BASF also ramped up its bereavement leave policy at the beginning of the year. The company said last month its employees will be able to take up to 10 paid days of leave after the loss of an immediate family member and five days for a close relative. Previously, BASF employees had 3-5 days leave for the death of a family member.

See also: BASF boosts family, bereavement leave

Dealing with loss is too often an undervalued and utilized benefit, Mollie O’Brien, BASF’s director of total rewards, told EBN last month.

“Everyone knows that becoming a parent is a big deal and requires huge changes … [but] losing a parent or spouse or dealing with a serious and often unexpected illness can be just as disruptive, at least in the short term, and we wanted to give people the time and space to be able to focus on taking care of things at home before coming back to work,” O’Brien said. “It’s not always the big things either; often it’s tactical things that just need to happen, like cleaning out Dad’s apartment, or getting Mom set up with a home health aide. People can’t focus on work, quality, safety or anything else that drives value if they’re worrying about these things.”

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