DEAR HARRIETTE: Dealing with grief is different for everyone, and there is no telling how long someone will grieve. I want to respect that in every way, but my employee, a young adult who has lost her mother, has been out of work for two months now. I understand her situation. She is about 20 years old, and it was just her and her mother. I am sure she is drowning in the unknown of what to do next.
As a business owner, I am in unknown territory as well here. She is a great employee. I do not want to lose her, but after all this time, she still has not agreed to come back to work. I need help. She received some bereavement pay, but I cannot afford to bring someone else in and also keep her. What’s the best approach to telling her she needs to come back to work or resign? -- A Boss Who Cares
DEAR A BOSS WHO CARES: You have extended your kindness to this employee above and beyond the norm. While bereavement leave is not required of a company, the standard amount of time that an employee is given paid leave is up to three business days after a family member’s death. Unpaid leave rarely runs longer than a week. Two months is extremely generous.
Talk to your employee. Let her know that you realize she is suffering, and this is why you have allowed her to be out of work for so long, but now she must return or you will be forced to fill her position with someone else. Make it clear that you prefer to welcome her back, but you have a business to run, and the position must be filled by someone. Start looking for her replacement. And if you haven’t stopped paying this employee, do so now.