MPs talk about bereavement leave: ‘It takes time to get used to’

This afternoon, MPs will talk about the possibility of a statutory bereavement leave. At this time, there is no leave after the death of a family member. A petition that advocates for this has now been signed almost 80,000 times.

But entrepreneurial associations are not eager for such a mourning leave.

Marleen Oostendorp-Lancee was widowed at the age of 37 after a short sickbed of her husband, she describes in a letter to MPs. โ€œI was left with twins then 5 years old and a 9-week baby.โ€

Oostendorp-Lancee is one of those affected who participates in the roundtable discussion between MPs, (experience) experts and interest groups. It should give the House of Representatives a better understanding of the consequences of bereavement at work.

โ€œEverything is different, a lot needs to be arranged, it takes time to get used to the new situation. At birth, this is provided for in the law. Not at death,โ€ writes Oostendorp-Lancee. โ€œRight now, incapacity for work/absenteeism is the only ‘solution’. And one depends on a flexible employer and understanding company doctor. This randomness is undesirable.โ€

Leave Belgium extended

Union CNV calls for a 10-day bereavement leave. Such a leave has been in Belgium since this year. Previously, Belgians received 3 days of leave after the death of a family member. In the House of Representatives, too, several parties are preparing a bill to make a bereavement leave possible.

A House letter this year shows that more European countries have such leave:

In the Netherlands, some employees are already receiving bereavement leave. They then have the right to do so on the basis of the collective labor agreement of their sector. In 2017, a leave scheme was included in nine collective labor agreements, in 2019 there were already sixteen. โ€œIt‘s on the rise,โ€ says a spokesperson for CNV. โ€œBut ultimately, you want a legal mourning leave as a safety net. Then it applies to all employees.โ€

Employers: tangle of arrangements

One of the companies that has been giving bereavement leave to their own employees for almost ten years is funeral care giver Monuta. โ€œOne of the reasons to offer (flexible) bereavement leave as an employer is – in addition to giving room for mourning – the prevention of long-term loss after a loss in the family,โ€ writes chief executive Quinten Fraai to MPs. โ€œBy immediately investing in time, an employer ultimately takes care of committed and vital employees who are less out of the running for a long time, because they are due to bereavement.โ€

Monuta advises a six-week bereavement leave, of which four weeks can be used flexibly. But other entrepreneurs are less keen for a compulsory mourning leave. In letters to the MPs, the General Employers’ Association Netherlands (AWVN) and entrepreneurial association ONL discourage a statutory leave.

The employers clubs say that there are already plenty of ways to take leave, such as emergency leave, absenteeism or the use of the personal choice budget. In addition, they point out the financial burden on entrepreneurs associated with the โ€œtangle of leave arrangements.โ€

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment examines the implications of mourning at work. The mourning leave is also included in this. The results of that investigation will go to the House of Representatives at the end of January.