Employers should offer more support to bereaved workers: survey

Burning candle in mortuary funeral death
Photo: Depositphotos.com
Burning candle in mortuary funeral death
Photo: Depositphotos.com

People who have lost a relative often feel they are not suported by their employers and have a difficult time combining work with the mourning process, a survey by union CNV has shown.

Of the 1.100 respondents, almost half had lost a relative. One in 10 had a ‘burn out’ as a result of having to work during the aftermath of a death, while one in five said they felt their employer did not give them enough support. A quarter said they were unable to function properly for a longer period.

‘Employers have to make sure people can return to a safe working environment after a death,’ CNV chair Piet Fortuin told broadcaster NOS. ‘Don’t say right after the funeral: so when will you come back to work? Ask how people are. Offer the right resonse. Not all deaths are the same. There’s a difference between losing a child and losing your 85-year-old parent.’

Fortuin said that although colleagues and the bereaved person themselves might find the situation awkward, it should not be left to the personnel department to contact the person. ‘That should happen early and preferably by the person’s manager,’ Fortuin said.

CNV said it would call for a flexible mourning period instead of separate arrangements for each collective labour agreement, as is currently the case.

The union advised employers to pay extra attention to employees who have lost a partner or child. ‘This group is hit particularly hard. 73% were unable to function for a longer time, 23% suffered a burn out and 14% lost their job,’ Fortuin told the broadcaster.

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