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What Is Your Company’s Bereavement Policy?

Interviews by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Federal and New York employment law does not require employers to give bereavement time. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 71% of employers offer some bereavement time. We recently asked leaders of CNY organizations about their company’s bereavement policy.


“We really have no written policy concerning this since we are a small company, but usually three days are given. More may be taken if it is for an immediate family member.”

— Sandy Shue, Manager Canalview Travel Service, Inc., Fulton


“We allow three paid days for immediate family members, grandparent, spouse, brother-sister or child. We are flexible, and they can request to use sick, vacation or unpaid days as needed. We allow each employee to request time and will manage the situation case by case.  We do allow staff to attend coworker services and will shut down as needed.”

— John Henry, Owner Mitchell’s Speedway Press, Oswego


“Regularly scheduled full-time and part-time employees receive up to three days of bereavement pay for immediate family members including natural, step, and/or in-law relationships. ‘Immediate family’ is defined as spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent or grandchild. Occasionally an employee may need bereavement leave for other relationships. If deemed appropriate, supervisors may approve up to one full day for the funeral of non-immediate members.”

— Cindy Seeber, Director of human resources Oswego County Opportunities, Inc., Fulton


“We don’t have an actual policy. Whatever time you need to take, you need to take. If you need longer than a few days, you can use your personal time. They’re very flexible.”

— Joanne Scruton, Office manager Amdursky, Pelky, Fennell & Wallen, P.C., Oswego


“I think it’s very important for the employees to spend time with the family under the circumstances of a death in the family. Our bereavement policy is if it’s the loss of a family member that lives in the household, the employee receives three days and if it’s someone outside the household, two days.”

— Charles Handley, Owner Burke’s Do It Best Home Center, Oswego


“We unfortunately just had this situation with a staff member. Her boyfriend and child’s father died in a terrible accident, and we told her to take as much time as she needs. We’ll do something for her as far as host a fundraiser or event to help her out if she has financial needs. We work with staff if someone has a tragedy in their family. That’s how we were raised; it’s all we know. Anytime something tragic happens, we’re the first ones there to support our employees. I can’t see any other response than to be supportive and help where you can. It’s the whole team here. We have kitchen staff who pick up extra shifts in their absence and they’re happy to do it.”

— Jason Allers, Owner The Eis House, Mexico


Our employer is incredibly flexible with bereavement time. I believe it’s officially three days for paid bereavement and he’d extend that if you wanted to use any personal time.”

— Heather Sturges, Licensed funeral director, Foster Funeral Home Fulton and Hannibal


“We don’t have a formal bereavement policy, but anytime when there’s been an employee whose loved one passes, we’ve given them the time that they need. It’s been up to 30 days before. We know about it all too well here in this line of work, which is why we give so much leeway for bereavement. It’s a very difficult time for anyone to go through when losing a family member. Though we deal with it day in and day out as a business, it’s difficult when this hits close to home, which is why we give people as much time as they need.”

— Jody Wiggins Hunt, Owner Kellogg Memorials, Mexico


“All my teachers are independent contractors. Anytime they need time off, it’s laid back. The studio isn’t that big. We just work it out between ourselves to cover classes for each other. We’re very flexible. It’s a small yoga studio. We have classes every day. But not as many as in a bigger city, so it’s easier for us to accommodate each other. We believe in yoga and that’s why we do it.”

— Sandra Eby, Owner Blossom Yoga and Wellness, Oswego


“I give them the time off that they want if a family member died. I know that if my mother died, I’d quit my job if I couldn’t go to the funeral. I have two deaths related to people at my business and we’re going to go to the funeral to support the people related to them.”

— Maria Conzone, Owner Maria’s Maria’s Family Restaurant, Oswego


“We don’t have anything in writing as far as a policy goes. What we have done in the past is on a case-by-case basis. We’ve given a lot of time off — even months. We check with them and see where they’re at without pushing them. We want to care for them. We try to help them work through it and support them the best we can. We also have Grief Share, a ministry for people who’ve lost family and loved ones and that helps people in times of bereavement.”

— Richard Beaumont, Pastor New Covenant Community Church, Oswego


“We’re a family-run business so we’d take our time off. We know how important the grieving process is and it gives families time to grieve properly. There are lots of things to legally after the death of a loved one, especially if it’s a parent, with filing a life insurance claim, banking, Social Security and pensions. You have to secure the home, clean out their apartment or room at the nursing home. You need time to get those things done. If they had animals, you have to take care of those. There are also their automobiles, and properties. There’s a lot involved.”

— John Nelson, Owner Nelson Funeral Home Oswego


“When they have a death in the family, we give them the standard time off for bereavement. It’s important to support them emotionally. It helps their grieving process.”

— Tammie Malone, Office manager Scriba Electric, Oswego