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Watch out! If this just happened to your employee, he might start taking more sick leave than usual

by , 25 March 2015
It may sound odd - and so far away from the SA environment - but Norway is in talks about the country's stance on sick leave.

This because the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry and Norway's Medical Association are trying to address whether grief should be made a valid reason for paid sick leave.

They're arguing that those who experience traumatic feelings need sick leave to ensure they don't suffer from psychological issues as a result.

Here in SA, grief isn't a valid sick leave reason either. In fact, if an employee's loved one passes away (and it must be a very close relative) they get just three days of Family Responsibility Leave to deal with it.

But is this a mistake?

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When an employee is grieving, the number of sick days he takes goes up dramatically

As naturalnews.com explains, the most common "natural" cause of chronic illness is unresolved grief.
It can result in muscle tension, manifest in the chest as a cough or bronchitis, in the gut as nausea or intestinal cramps, or in the head as tension headaches or migraines. In fact, it's not even unusual for it to develop into more problematic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease, high blood pressure and even heart disease.
And you know what that means, more sick days and more sick leave taken. 
This, in turn, costs your company valuable time and productivity and could put projects on the back burn if your employee plays an instrumental role. 
Even worse, these problems can linger – for years on end. 
But do you have an alternative?
The answer, might lie in having a more flexible bereavement policy than labour law deems necessary. 

What can you do to help your employee who is grieving?

Legally, you only need to give your employee three days of Family Responsibility Leave for a death in his family. And even then, they can only take this for immediate family.
Often, though, it pays to be more lenient. 
In fact, many companies give their employees up to three weeks of paid leave to deal with the death of a close family member. 
Although it can take years to get the pain of losing a loved one to a manageable size, having three weeks to come to terms with your grief can really help an employee with his health and his state of mind. 
It's up to you whether or not you want to do this. After all, it's definitely not a legal requirement. But if you do, you must put in place a bereavement policy. It's the only way to ensure all employees get equal treatment. And to make sure there are rules in place that safeguard you from employees taking advantage of your generosity. 

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