bobYesterday, I learned of the passing of a friend, Robert Gulomb, the beloved husband of Livia Barndollar – the former President of the Connecticut Bar Association, and a friend and mentor as well.   Robert passed away peacefully after a long illness.

I last saw Robert in the hospital earlier this month, but that’s not how I’ll remember him. 
My fondest memory of Robert was at a marvelous brunch we had last year in the Boston area.  He wasn’t in the best of health, but his wit, charm and smarts were never more evident.  The terrific food only added to the sense that this was something special.  My wife had been dealing with her own illness at the time and the four of us enjoyed a meal oblivious to the tolls that disease had taken on our families.  It was just good food and good company.
I remember talking about the blog and how writing was special to me.  He was inquisitive about it. So I can think of no better way for me to honor Robert from me than to dedicate this post about grieving and bereavement to him.
His passing is still yet another reminder that death is a way of life. It’s a cliché for sure but employers have to deal with this issue on an ongoing basis.
But what does the law tell us? For the most part, there aren’t any laws about it.  You won’t find the topic on Connecticut DOL’s wage and workplace standards pages. While FMLA leave is designed to provide leave to care for a family member (particularly in the end stages of life), an immediate death may not qualify and it does not seem to cover attending funerals. Indeed, do a search for “death” or “funeral” in the Connecticut FMLA regulations and your searches will come up empty.
Thus, employers have crafted their own set of rules. I covered this in one of my very first posts back in September 2007.  In that piece, I discussed several issues that employers may want to consider.
  1. Are your bereavement policies established? If so, are they non-discriminatory?
  2. What practices do you have to help the grieving worker communicate with colleagues? And do you have an employee assistance program that you can refer employees to?
  3. How can you help co-workers express their sympathy, particularly if the loss is actually in the workplace?
  4. How do you help the bereaved employee and his or her supervisor deal with any lingering productivity issues?

None of this is easy.

Usually, for immediate family members, many employers will provide employees two-three days off with pay, and no pay for any additional time, unless employees arrange to use personal days or vacation time. How you define “immediate family member” is up to the particular employer, but make sure that it takes into account the changes that have been made in Connecticut for same-sex marriages.

Sail on, Robert.  May his memory be for a blessing.