Compassionate leave has been increasingly discussed as more people lose loved ones but are not entitled to time off to grieve them.

Some have called for statutory leave for those experiencing loss, as currently employer’s are not required to provide it.

On Lunchtime Live today, Edel, a listener from Galway, told the story of her mother passing away when her daughter was just four weeks old.

Shortly after, Edel’s husband was diagnosed with stage four terminal lung cancer. He passed away three years and three months later.

“The unfortunate thing is there’s no timeline with grief and everyone grieves so differently”, she said.

“I come from a very large family myself and I’ve seen us all obviously grieving for my mother. It was all so different.”

“We’re very lucky being Irish. We’re very good at grieving.”

Currently, the amount of leave given to workers with a bereavement is at the employer’s discretion.

Edel works in a family-run hotel. She said her employers were “amazing” in supporting her through her bereavement.

“It is important to resume routine”, she said. “But if you have the support of employers and there’s no pressure being put on you, obviously that helps.”

Edel said that family and friends of hers who have suffered a loss were met with the same kindness by their employer.

“We’re very lucky being Irish. We’re very good at grieving.”

Employer’s discretion

Orla Keegan, Head of Education and Bereavement at the Irish Hospice Foundation, is calling for the provision of Compassionate Leave to be brought into law.

“We know this is going to happen to people. Let’s plan for it. Let’s not leave it up to discretion.”

“Leave is one part of it”, she added, saying that acknowledgment and compassion are also vital to a good support system.

“What we would support is the development of bereavement policies in all work organisations.”

“I developed depression and anxiety and I looked for some more time, but it wasn’t an option.”

While employers can generally create their own rules around leave, last year the public service sector introduced 20 days statutory of leave for those who have lost a spouse or a child.

“Our concern is that it is not equitable and depending on who you work for or where you work, you might have a different experience.”

Listener Brian told the show: “I completely agree because I lost somebody very close to me 13 years ago. I worked in a hotel at the time. I got time off for the funeral, but when I came back I wasn’t dealing with it.”

“I developed depression and anxiety and I looked for some more time, but it wasn’t an option.”

Brian eventually was “forced out” of his job – something he said “nearly ruined” him.

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