A grievance for grieving employees

Employees argued spouse's grandparents should be considered similar as own grandparents for bereasvement leave
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/18/2013

This instalment of You Make the Call involves three employees looking for bereavement leave for the death of their spouses’ grandparents.

Three employees of Essex County, Ont. — two paramedics and one inside worker — sought paid bereavement leave to attend the visitation and funeral of their spouse’s grandparent or great-grandparent. Under the collective agreements, employees were entitled to five consecutive days for the funeral of a parent, spouse, child or step-child, or step-parent. Three days were allowed for the funeral of a brother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparent, step-sibling, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, grandchild, or “any relative who has been residing in the same household of the employee.” One day’s paid leave was allowed for the funeral of an uncle, aunt, niece or nephew and one-half day off for that of a close friend on a work day.

The death of a spouse’s grandparent or great-grandparent was not specified in the collective agreement provision, but the county was willing to treat it as the death of a close friend — granting one-half of a day off. The employees and the union felt it should be treated the same as the death of the employee’s own grandparent and warrant three paid days off. The employees in each case argued they had personal connections with the deceased, had an obligation to comfort their spouse and family and be there at family events around the funeral, much as they would if it was their own grandparent.