Source | The Times of India : By Vipashana V K and Reeba Zachariah

MUMBAI: When Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband in 2015, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told her to take as much time off as she needed to cope with the loss. In doing so, he set off a new trend in HR policies — bereavement leave.

Earlier this year, Sandberg, on her FB page, admitted how difficult it had been for her to join work immediately after the loss, and how much the leave had helped her cope. She then announced a 20-day bereavement leave for Facebook employees, the maximum any company offers as grief leave.

The Sandberg incident has had a ripple effect around the globe, including India. Now, several companies here offer anything from a day to five days off to mourn the passing of loved ones. These include majors such as Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Cipla and Hilton India. Earlier, an employee was expected to apply for privilege leave.

Thomas Kuruvilla, managing partner in Arthur D Little, a consultancy firm that offers three days of bereavement leave, says it was introduced to ensure that employees spend at least a few days with their families in their hour of crisis. “We consider the immediate family a part of our group,” he said.

In most cases, bereavement leave covers only immediate family members (spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandkids) and not extended relatives. In select cases, it includes pets too. “They are as much an immediate family,” said Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, co-founder and CEO of Gozoop, a digital marketing company which offers pet bereavement leave.

While there is no law mandating bereavement leave as in the case of maternity leave, companies believe going the extra mile in such trying circumstances will help increase engagement with employees.

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