Non-profit working at legislative level to create workplace bereavement leave policy

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 7:34 AM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Many people think of bereavement as grief for one person or family to experience. An organization called Evermore is working to change the narrative by including bereavement leave in the workplace.

With grief being a common experience in American society, Evermore’s outreach coordinator says it is a public health issue that is affecting families nationwide.

Carole Zoom says it consists of three components: physical and mental health, and economic well-being after someone passes away.

“Only a few workplaces have a policy for what happens to you after the death of a loved one. People are cobbling together time off, sick time, and personal time without pay,” Zoom added. “We believe there should be a coordinated policy at the federal level so that people who have lost a loved one can take time off from their work and not lose their job.”

Texas and 48 other states do not require any bereavement leave. Zoom says it is important for employers to understand and care enough about their employees to add bereavement leave.

“The burden of bereavement should be shared between employers and families. Right now, families are by themselves in the worst moment of their lives. They have no support from employers and our government has not created a system that is a safety net for families,” Zoom said.

According to Zoom, people are currently calling on President Biden to start a bereavement leave policy, even if it is unpaid.

“Right now we have more than 500,000 people who have died of COVID-19. For each person who has died, they leave behind approximately 9 family members or friends who are in grief and are coping with the aftermath,” Zoom explained.

Evermore is helping families speak out about their losses. Zoom says the impact is being felt by families across the nation.

“Bereavement has a disproportionate effect on people of color,” Zoom said. “Black Americans experience child death at a greater rate than white Americans. There are greater health and social burdens that are felt by families of color.”

According to zoom, one of the issues in the workplace is that American workers do not have federal protection after the death of a family member.

She says part of the family medical leave does not cover bereavement for people that have lost a loved one.

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