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Woman 'Checking In' With Grieving Colleague After Husband Died Sparks Fury

Newsweek 9/27/2022 Maria Azzurra Volpe
A stock image shows a widow taking flowers to a cemetery. The internet has sided with a widow who got annoyed at her colleague for sending a text asking which manager is checking in on her during her compassionate leave. © Getty Images A stock image shows a widow taking flowers to a cemetery. The internet has sided with a widow who got annoyed at her colleague for sending a text asking which manager is checking in on her during her compassionate leave.

The internet has sided with a widow who got annoyed at a co-worker for a text she sent her during her compassionate leave period, which was branded appalling and unnecessary.

In a post shared on Mumsnet on Monday, the grieving woman, under the username 200degrees, explained that she lost her husband 10 days ago and is currently on compassionate leave from work, before taking the month's leave her doctor gave her.

About five days into her compassionate leave, a non-management co-worker sent her a text message asking which manager is "checking in with [her]" whilst her boss isn't at work, with a second text saying "hope you're okay" sent 20 minutes afterward.

She added that the condolences felt insincere because of the time gap between the two messages and that she had a call with her manager in the morning, and he told her not to worry about work and that he will speak to her when he was back.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, including attending a funeral, and this type of benefit is generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee.

Employees are entitled to use a total of up to 104 hours (13 days) of sick leave each year for family care and bereavement, which include making arrangements required by the death of a family member and attending the funeral of a family member.

In her post, the woman said: "No other manager has contacted me. I'm annoyed that random people in the office know my situation, feel like I'm being gossiped about. It seems like my manager has not done a proper handover about my situation to another manager (if he needed to that is?) but has been telling people why I'm not at work."

About 72 percent of the 257 users who voted in the poll ruled that she was not being unreasonable, and some suggested bringing this up with her company's Human Resources department.

Mumsnet user Cosycover commented: "Very sorry for your loss. [They] absolutely should not be texting you. Why they have taken it upon themselves to do so is beyond me. I would respond with a simple 'why' and I'd let my manager know this person has been checking up on me."

Keyansier said: "What the f**k? Ignore the text and put in a complaint when you return. How dare someone who is non-management text you to see which manager is checking in with you. How is it any of their business? I hope you're feeling okay. Concentrate on yourself and don't give any of these overbearing texts a second [thought]."

Caroffee commented: "Appalling. It's none of the colleague's business."

On the other hand, mtld asked: "Are you sure they meant 'checking in' in a work sense? Maybe they meant they're just checking how you're holding up? Whatever their intentions, ignoring the message is fine. I'm so sorry for what has happened to you.

"Perhaps they didn't know your manager or any regular colleagues had been in touch in his absence and didn't want you thinking nobody cared? But yes, [feel] free to ignore [it]. No response needed here."

AtrociousCircumstance wrote: "It was a hassly, unnecessary message. Screenshot and send to HR and say you do not want to be contacted by anyone who isn't directly managing you while you are off work."

"If she'd texted 'Thinking of you' that would have been a nice friendly message. But she was questioning who was managing her, expecting a response about work issues which weren't her concern and should never have been communicated."

Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.

If you have a similar dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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