Tuesday, September 7, 2010

it's legitimate to take leave to mourn loss of kin

India Inc might soon see a new category of legitimate time off from work, bereavement leave. Desi corporates seem to be thinking progressively, on par with their global counterparts, and adopting bereavement policies.

Some 90% of the enterprises in the US do grant bereavement leave, allowing employees to take time off on the loss of a loved one. In most cases, employees are given three days off with pay, a few places of work might give five days as time off with pay, while some companies grant additional time off without pay. IT companies in India are in the forefront in adopting this compasstionate HR practice, which in the Indian context finds great resonance with employees.

TCS already has bereavement leave facility for its employees on a global basis. "It's not just a day, we allow our employees to take adequate leave to handle the family trauma in case of death of an immediate family member. Case to case, the number of days of leave required by employees vary, it could be multiple days, up to five days or more. This is given in addition to the existing, scheduled leave quota," said a TCS spokesperson.

Last month, Infosys Technologies introduced bereavement leave that will allow its employees to take off for a day, on the demise of their spouse, any of their parents, siblings or children. "This was introduced a month ago at Infosys. It is a one-day additional leave facility given to employees who suffer loss of any of their immediate family members. Many global companies already have such leave facilities," said TV Mohandas Pai, head, education, training and HR, Infosys Technologies. Apparently, Infosys employees are not happy with the one-day bereavement leave scheme and are asking for at least three days.

Many MNCs including Cisco (four days) and Adobe (multiple days) already offer such leave facility in India. In most cases, companies follow a narrow definition of who a close family member is and only if one of the following --spouse, child, parent, grandparent, brother, sister -- die can an employee be considered for time off with pay.

"Such policies make more sense in the Indian context where death-related rituals, religious practices and formalities are very time-consuming and take several days to complete," said a senior employee at a tech firm. Post-death issues include arranging a funeral or memorial service and burial, dealing with personal belongings, property and settling of wills. When a family member dies, in addition to coping with the loss of the person, the family left behind is left to deal with many of these issues.