Worker Fired For Not Having Their Mom's Death Certificate Soon Enough To Prove Why They Needed Time Off

It's cruel and ridiculous to require a death certificate in the first place. But a three-day deadline?

Woman mourning the loss of her mother Ground Picture / Shutterstock

American employers are not exactly known for being kind, warm, and fuzzy. But when it comes to something major and life-altering like a death, you expect even the most callous employer to have a little bit of a heart.

Not so with one Redditor's boss, who required them to jump through absurd hoops to keep their job in the middle of a life-altering situation.

The worker was fired for not having their mom's death certificate soon enough to prove why they needed time off.

America's farcically inept employment laws rear their ugly heads once again. We all know that the US has paltry vacation and sick time, but when it comes to bereavement leave, what nearly all companies offer is woefully inadequate — if they offer anything at all, that is.

@sarahatlooseends Three days of paid bereavement leave is not enough. Full stop. Should not require more explanation. Thx for coming to my soapbox. #lifeafterloss #funeral #funeralstory #griefjourney #grief #grieftok #corporatelife #business #humanresources #hr ♬ original sound - sarahatlooseends

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This Redditor is among those working for a company that offers no bereavement benefits of any kind. But they take things one giant, exceptionally cruel step further by requiring workers to prove why they're taking time off and placing a deadline on the process that is impossible to meet.

The worker was given just three days to provide a death certificate, far less than the process of obtaining one usually takes.

"I had to leave work Sunday night (like 8 p.m.) because my mom (who was struggling with cancer) had passed during my shift," the worker wrote in their since-deleted post. "I received an email today (Wednesday) that if I couldn’t have the death certificate today, I’d be terminated."

But as anyone who's dealt with things like funeral arrangements knows, that is a completely unreasonable expectation. Though a death certificate is typically required by state law to be filed within 72 hours of death, the process of actually getting it in your hands can take as long as two weeks.

In this worker's case, they were told that "the earliest I could have it is tomorrow based on how long the funeral home said it takes." So even in the best-case scenario, that rarely happens; they wouldn't be able to meet their job's requirements.


The worker scrambled to get other documentation instead, but their employer refused to accept it.

Several Redditors urged the worker to come up with any form of alternate documentation they could. Some suggested getting a letter from the funeral home handling the service.

Others suggested they send a copy of the obituary if there is one, and to CC leaders in the HR department and corporate office so they know how utterly ridiculous and cruel the boss was being. "Just be thankful they put this in writing," one user commented.

@yourtango There’s nothing that can prepare a person for the unexpected loss of a beloved pet #dogowner #doglover #dogsoftiktok #reddit #rainbowbridge ♬ original sound - YourTango

Some even suggested the worker go to local media to expose their employer's cruelty. But in the end, it didn't matter. "I attempted to send in the obituary for my mom and offered to bring in a letter from the funeral home," the worker wrote. "Both options were rejected."


They concluded that their employer was "looking for a reason to fire me," which they found perplexing. "I had been here for a year and thought I was doing good. I had zero write-ups and zero verbal [warnings]," they wrote. Now, on top of grieving their mom, they are reeling from being fired out of nowhere.

RELATED: Boss Writes Up His Employee After He Misses Work Because His Sister Died

American employers' approach to bereavement leave is unrealistic, cruel, and inhumane — and it needs to change.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, as reported by Fortune, about 90% of American companies offer some form of bereavement leave, a substantial increase since the last time they studied the matter in 2016.  

But the provisions most companies offer are absurdly inadequate. According to advocacy organization Empathy, 80% of companies offer five or fewer days of bereavement leave, with the standard being three days for immediate family and a single, solitary day for everyone else.


This is laughable — experts at Empathy say most people require at least three weeks to recover from the death of someone close to them in the first place. Many will require more because grieving is different for everyone.

But these policies also do not take into account the nature of our human relationships. Using myself as an example, my mother is estranged from me, and until very recently, I had a strained relationship with my father. My aunt and uncle were more like my parents for most of my life.

When they both died within six months of each other in 2022, I was thankfully a freelancer, so I could take all the time I needed. But if I'd been working for practically every company in America, I would have been given a single day off to attend their funerals and nothing more. That is absurd.


Like many Queer people, I am also far closer to most of my friends — my so-called "chosen family" — than I am to nearly any of my blood relations, immediate or otherwise. Even those of us from close-knit families are far more entwined with our closest friends than a single day of grieving accounts for.

@hackyourhr bereavement leave policies should be updated 🪄#hackyourhr ♬ original sound - Amy | Hack Your HR

Frankly, these policies are barbaric, and to take things further by requiring people to submit proof they're not lying and establish whether their grief — a process that often takes years to get to the other side of — is worthy of 24 hours of time off or 72 is sadistic.

Most companies don't care about their workers anyway, but for those that do, besides paying them a living wage, your time-off policies, including bereavement, are how you show employees you actually care anything about them. And nothing that gets done in your office is as, let alone more, important than people's loved ones. Your workers are human beings. Treat them accordingly


RELATED: Grieving Employee Forced To Return To Work And 'Smile' Despite The Recent Loss Of A Family Member

John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.