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I am fortunate to work at a company that holds an annual holiday/social event. There are some light remarks from management (listing our achievements this year, etc.), but it is primarily a social event lasting 4-5 hours. The event is held during working hours, not on personal time, so in a sense they are paying me to be there, and they are paying for the food and drinks.

My situation is that there was recently a death in the immediate family. In order to be at the funeral, I would need to miss at least the last 1-2 hours of the event. My absence will be conspicuous in either case.

My question is whether it would be better to: 1) Attend part of the event and then leave, or 2) Not attend at all (and take bereavement leave, since it is during working hours)

I would enjoy attending, but am concerned that leaving during the event could give the impression that I was skipping out early to go home. My management would know the situation, but a number of other senior leaders will be there, including several with whom our relationship is a key part of my job.

Not attending at all would be less likely to give the wrong impression (people will ask my boss where I am), but I'd miss the part of the event that I could attend.

Thoughts, community? Thanks!

Edit: To clarify, the funeral is not on the same day as the corporate event. It is on the following day. However, given the distance involved, I would need to leave no later than the afternoon of the day of the corporate event.

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Perhaps also consider that some would find it very strange that someone would even want to attend a company function on the funeral day of an immediate family member. It is almost unimaginable for most people, I think. –  Angelo Dec 6 '12 at 0:22
    
Thanks Angelo, but that is not quite the situation that I am currently in. I've edited the question to clarify that. –  JAGAnalyst Dec 6 '12 at 6:05
    
Some companies do allow bereavement leaves. Check with your HR. –  Spoike Dec 6 '12 at 8:24
    
Thanks Spoike. It may not have been clear from the question, but I do have the option to take a bereavement day as mentioned in option 2) above. –  JAGAnalyst Dec 6 '12 at 18:59
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@JAGAnalyst - Do what is best for you. In the general sense the event itself is no different then any other day. So if you had to leave on any other day early, do exactly what you would do, per your company policies. I personally would show up and leave early like any other day. –  Ramhound Dec 10 '12 at 15:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I would enjoy attending, but am concerned that leaving during the event could give the impression that I was skipping out early to go home. My management would know the situation, but a number of other senior leaders will be there, including several with whom our relationship is a key part of my job.

I'd probably decide depending on how many people are in that senior leaders that don't know the situation. If the number is less than a handful, then it may be better to go for the little bit that you can and then leave for the funeral though this would imply you'd go to each of them to let them know the situation. If there are more than a handful then it would probably be better to miss the whole thing so that you aren't informing some leaders and ignoring others which could be seen as favoring some people over others in terms of who is kept in the loop. In really small companies, I could see letting the 2 or 3 people know fairly easily and thus it wouldn't be as big an issue whereas in a large company there could be dozens of people to inform that would require another approach altogether.

I would likely suggest discussing this with your manager at least a little bit so that they are aware of your concerns as well as to note your absence for that time.

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JB, +1 for your thoughts on considering the number of people. Also, while I do plan to speak with my manager, I didn't say that and that is good advice in general. –  JAGAnalyst Dec 6 '12 at 6:09
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To add to this answer, if it's a small group of people you feel the need to alert to your early departure it would be easy to go person by person. For a larger group it would be difficult to do so, but perhaps a communication (email?) after the event and funeral to the tune of "It was great seeing you at the company event, sorry I had to leave so soon but there was a recent loss in our family." It seems polite on two levels and loops everyone in to why you left early. –  ckoerner Dec 6 '12 at 14:50
    
I chose this answer as it was most helpful in addressing my central concern about wanting to attend the event, but not wanting to give the wrong impression. The number of key people is more than a few, but not too many to greet a la "I wanted to say hello before I have to leave... funeral." Thanks all! –  JAGAnalyst Dec 6 '12 at 19:01

Personally I'd take bereavement leave for the whole day. It's not sensible to work part of a day when you have to attend a funeral.

Neither HR nor your manager will expect you to go to the function under these circumstances, and even if the event involved clients they wouldn't expect you to attend.

The way to look at this is ask yourself what you would do if the funeral wasn't the same day as the company event and do that. This is what you will feel most comfortable doing.

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+1 for the suggestion to handle this the way I would if I didn't have the company event. –  JAGAnalyst Dec 6 '12 at 18:52

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