27 Jul 2019 - Marnic Vandenbroucke
Whether we are a manager or an employee, we are all confronted with death at different times in our lives.
A death on the work floor itself is fortunately exceptional, however the death of a colleague after a lingering illness or accident is more frequent. And even when a family member or loved one passes away, mourning largely exceeds the private sphere.
At this point, the question arises as to how you deal with this as a manager. It is one of the most delicate exercises with which you can be confronted as an entrepreneur and employer. How do you give your grieving employee(s) sufficient space and support to process the death of a loved one, without losing sight of the interests and proper functioning of your company?
If one of your employees dies, you should inform his or her colleagues as soon as possible. This is best done in person or by telephone if your employees work on location. Of course you can also delegate this to an internal employee.
You can inform your customers and suppliers of the death of one of your employees by means of a written message, or via an e-mail that has been prepared in an appropriate style and form.
When a family member of an employee dies you inform his or her colleagues as soon as possible. The easiest way is through the internal communication channels.
If one of your employees dies, you can provide a place in your company for a photo of the deceased, with the possibility to write a message for the family in a book of condolence. Moreover, you can give your staff leave of absence to participate in the funeral or cremation.
Upon the death of a relative of an employee, it depends on the degree of kinship whether it is appropriate to give your staff the opportunity to attend the funeral service. Of course it is recommended to send at least one representative of the company to the ceremony, to express your grief to the family.
The mourning process is a comprehensive and phased process, during which a number of ups and downs can occur. It is therefore important to help your employees deal with this loss in a healthy way. Talking about it alleviates the process for many people.
Yet you cannot force this on anyone. Some of your employees will choose not to grieve in the work environment, or prefer to do it individually. It is important that everyone notices that the company deals well with it, and can give the death a place. That is why it is so crucial that you, as an employer, go through this process together with the colleagues of the deceased.
Always contact the social secretariat to make the right adjustments for the social administration (wages, pensions, social security contributions, etc.). Do not forget to make engagements with the insurance broker about certain insurance policies (accident insurance, group insurance, hospitalisation insurance, funeral insurance ...).
Make sure you contact the family to make the proper arrangements for any personal possessions still at the company. Make these arrangements with respect for the family and take the necessary time. If the family wishes to collect the belongings personally, then be aware that this can be a very emotional moment. It is often the first time the family sees the workplace where the deceased spent a lot of time during his or her life.
When you are confronted with a death in your company (a direct colleague, an accident, a suicide, etc.), you should appeal to the professional support and guidance of your external service for prevention and protection in the workplace.
We hope you will find a lot of support in this manual, but at the same time that you rarely have to use it.