Full disclosure: I'm a student, not an employee, but our current project is supposed to simulate real work experience, with everything from SCRUM meetings to clients and managers.

Recently, there has been a death in my family, and I have to (and think it is important to) attend the funeral.

Apparently, my supervisor (who would simulate the "boss"/employer) is annoyed by the fact that I simply announced this, rather than asked for permission to be absent. (I do expect that he would grant this.)

This is a software development job/project, so no lives are at stake if I miss a day, and we are not in any state of crisis at the moment, so my absence would have relatively little impact.

Is my supervisor/"employer" right for expecting me to ask for permission?

EDIT: In case I wasn't clear, I meant that I think requiring notice is perfectly fine, but my supervisor wanted me to ask, rather than announce.

  • 4
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Please avoid submitting (partial) answers as comments. Comments exist mainly to ask for clarification so please take it to the chat if you want to discuss the question.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 12:11
  • 36
    Your country might matter. For example in Poland it is the law that you inform your employer, not ask, if it was close enough family member, and employer has no say about your absence. Consider adding country tag or stating that legality of your manager's actions is something you don't want considered in answers.
    – Mołot
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 12:31
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    How close of a family member is it? Different cultures might view "close" family relations differently. For example in the USA, if your 3rd cousin passed away, you probably couldn't count that as "bereavement" leave, whereas if it was your mother that died, it would. Perhaps the conflict is that the supervisor doesn't view this as bereavement leave at all.
    – GHP
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 18:21
  • 6
    @Mołot - you're right that country matters in this case. Similar situation is in the Netherlands - in case this was a close relative or partner, you even get a (paid) day off.
    – Mike
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 19:35
  • 8
    To be clear, is your supervisor annoyed, or is he playing the annoyed simulated employer to test your reaction? (Which would be in even worse taste than being genuinely annoyed, IMHO, but I just wanted to cover all the bases.)
    – DevSolar
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 11:07

16 Answers 16


First things first, you have my condolences.

Appropriateness of actions always depends on context, and in this case, the context is the death of a family member. I would say, in general, you should ask. But in this particular instance, no. Life events, particularly death, are serious events; attending a funeral is a gesture of your respect to the deceased person, his/her family and friends. I see no reason at all why attending a funeral should require permission. In the same way, if my partner is in critical condition in a hospital, I would simply visit the hospital (more likely rush to it), then notify. There will be no asking.

By not asking, you are sending a message: the event you are attending to is so important that you will go no matter what. Exercise this reason with caution.

  • 5
    well said. context indeed matters. Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:11
  • 81
    +1 When my wife went into preterm labor, I went straight to the hospital, then I let my manager know what was going on. Some things are more important than work, and my manager understood that. Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:41
  • 26
    To clarify: You mean "I see no reason at all why someone attending a funeral should be worried about getting permission", right? "I see no reason at all why attending a funeral should be given permission" sounds like you're saying "People going to funerals shouldn't be allowed to go."
    – user50183
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 1:06
  • 46
    @called2voyage: I guess you could say some kinds of labor are more important than others :-)
    – user541686
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 4:08
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    @called2voyage: having been through this myself (daughter came 2 months preterm, I bailed on my team in the middle of a working day), I feel like you're missing the part where your boss already knew about the pregnancy and things could happen at any time (at least, that's how it was in my case). That's different than if it came as a total surprise. It's important to be clear about such distinctions on SE.com, where others might not have had such experiences yet and don't know that forewarned is forearmed and it's ok to discuss such personal matters with your boss, if it will impact your job.
    – flith
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 6:54

First off, my sincerest condolences.

The one who was being unprofessional was your supervisor

A death in the family is one of those situations where the expectations of professionalism are relaxed somewhat.

When my uncle died, I went into work the next day, sent an email to a colleague but misspelled his name, then apologized for misspelling his name, and misspelled the word misspelled. Then I let my manager know I was leaving.

Your supervisor's actions were cold, callous, and borderline cruel.

The professional thing to do in such a case is to ignore any faux pas made during a time of grief. If this were a "real life" job and not a simulation, and I were in your situation, I would likely rage-quit right then and there. Not the wisest of moves and I certainly wouldn't recommend it, but as I said, grief is an extreme emotion and people are not always the most rational during these times.

Even in a simulation, it was not you that was out of line, it was the supervisor. There are extraordinary situations which require leeway and grief is one of them. What a good manager should do in such a situation would be to step in and say "Don't worry about the paperwork, I'll handle everything"

  • 1
    Cussing out your supervisor is not likely to be helpful at all, and stating that you would do it comes off as an endorsement. Please remove it from your answer. I felt this one small section is severe enough to warrant downvoting the answer, which is sad because the rest of the answer is very good.
    – jpmc26
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 0:15
  • @jpmc26 thank you for your suggestion. I will edit. Commented May 18, 2017 at 12:48

I don't ask permission. I tell them, "I need to" in those cases.

The "supervisor" isn't living in the real world and just wants his ego stroked so he can feel like he has more control than he actually does. He's playing a game and you're not. His game is that you should act like he has a choice so he can feel more like the boss.

Think about what he's saying when he says you should ask for permission: "I am the one who gets to decide whether or not you get to go to a funeral. I'm the one who decides if it's important enough for me to let you attend, and I might not let you."

We all have situations where we just aren't asking permission because we're not going to let other people dictate certain aspects of our lives. Funerals of family members are one example. Others would include:

  • Surgery for a loved one or myself
  • Illness or accident
  • Court
  • Life events for loved ones (like a daughter graduating college)
  • Appointments that simply can't be changed.

I ask permission (or at least assent) for things like doctor's appointments during busy times and things like that. But I'm not going to ask permission for something when a negative answer isn't going to stop me from doing it.

  • 23
    I was about to add a comment to another answer suggesting "need" and then caught this answer here. The nice thing about saying "need" is you give your supervisor an opportunity to grant your request without it really being a request in the first place. Essentially "Oh well then, if you need to be gone then I give you permission to go." You weren't really asking permission in the first place, but you give your ego-stroking supervisor a chance to feel good about "letting" you have time. Of course it shouldn't matter, this is just a suggestion for dealing with this (horrible) type of person... Commented May 10, 2017 at 22:27
  • 2
    Technically court would be other people dictating certain aspects of our lives. It's just that if you don't show up to work you might get fired, but if you don't show up to court you might get thrown in jail. But I totally agree with what you're saying.
    – Grant
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 13:03
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    This: "I'm not going to ask permission for something when a negative answer isn't going to stop me from doing it"
    – fdomn-m
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 8:24

First - condolences for your loss, and I agree with the consensus, your supervisor was acting unprofessional.

In a real world environment, you would have an employee handbook that defined the correct protocol for any situation where you do not wish to, or cannot, come in to work. The reason for the situation determines the method in which notification occurs, and the degree to which you are "asking" or "telling".

For example, if you want a day off for a vacation, you would ask for that, and there would be a particular way in which you do that (perhaps a form, perhaps online, perhaps an email or whatnot).

If you're sick, then you would tell them that. Depending on the kind of job, there might be a designated number of sick days you're allowed to take without penalty, or no restriction (other than getting your work done), or some penalty for the first day (common in retail). There would be a designated way to tell them (most often a phone call, but you might also have an online form or something).

For deaths in the family, those are typically covered under their own rule separate from the above. Many workplaces offer a specified number of days off specifically for this case, called bereavement days. Those days typically vary based on how close of a relation (1 day for a cousin/aunt/uncle, 3 days for grandparent, 5 days for parent or sibling or spouse, for example) and are intended both to let you have some time to figure things out as well as to attend the funeral.

Bereavement days would also have a particular way in which you apply for them. I would typically consider this a tell rather than an ask, though I would probably use softer language than a sick day ("Hi boss, my grandmother passed away, so I'm going to need to take Friday off to attend the funeral.") You'd probably need to fill out a form and possibly include the death notice or similar, depending on how bureaucratic your company is (many will believe you, at least the first time).

You'd also typically want to let your boss know as soon as you can, both of the death and of the date of the funeral; since those things often are separated by several days, if you let him or her know day one of the passing, then it won't be as much of a surprise when you let them know about the funeral.

But all of that aside, in any reasonable workplace nobody would fault you for being more abrupt than usual or not following protocol exactly in this kind of situation, and any supervisor who did wouldn't be one I'd want to work for.

  • 3
    +1 for the employee handbook. It's not as universally true as the answer claims, particularly in small companies, but it's still a useful point. Commented May 11, 2017 at 7:39

First, sorry for your loss.

Even under these circumstances they are within their rights to expect you to notify them (and thereby obtaining permission) of your need for time off, regardless of the reason. But in your case it is more of a formality. Most places are very accommodating to such a request especially under your circumstances. In my 20 plus year career no one has ever given me grief over an event such as this.

I would suggest you do this ( notify your manager ) in writing as well as verbally. I would recommend having a conversation first goes a long way here. Your email could be as simple as:


My INSERTRELATIONHERE has passed away and I will need time off to deal with the situation. You can share the funeral arrangement info if you have it too



If you just leave and not tell anyone or ask, you can be fired. Not that you would in this case, but its always better to ask and notify.

  • 6
    Yes, I think giving notice is obvious. What he expected, though, was me formulating it as a question, somehow implying that him saying no to such a thing would be either likely and acceptable. Commented May 10, 2017 at 15:18

I would argue that, no, it's not right for the supervisor to expect you to ask. I do think this is a good experience to have in this simulation. Just because something is right won't keep you from getting in trouble. Politely asking with the expectation that approval is a forgone conclusion would be less likely to ruffle feathers.

Right or wrong, being polite will always lessen the risk of dealing with workplace friction!


While the existing answers provide good value, I believe they're missing the important point that the phrasing of the "announcement" can dramatically change how it is percieved.

There is a big difference between

My family member has passed away, and I will be off work Thursday and Friday.


My family member has passed away, and I will be off work Thursday and Friday. What can I do to minimize my impact to the project?

The second shows that you are being very professional and considering your impact on your co-workers.

The reality is that you're not going to be working for sometime it was planned you would be. This means someone has to pick up that slack or the entire timeline is going to shift. Maybe that means you deal with that work next week, but maybe your manager was expecting you to finish a critical component on those days and now you need to transition that work to someone else.

Furthermore, you don't say if this announcement was team-wide or just to your manager. If it was team-wide, it is understandable that your manager was annoyed. Always inform your manager of your plans before the team. This lets him (or her) formulate a plan to ensure the project isn't impacted. If you inform the team before the manager, they might ask the manager for the plan and then the manager looks unprepared because they haven't had a chance to think.

  • Downvoters care to comment? What do you think could be improved about this answer?
    – Vlad274
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:18
  • 3
    Someone died in his family. Do you think, he'd be in mental state to exchange unnecessary courtesies and give a damn about the impact it might cause to the project? Even holding such expectation is insensitive and cruel.
    – hspandher
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    Every person is different and it is impossible to make any general claim about all people, however when I was in this situation a month ago I found this approach helpful. I'm not saying that this is the perfect approach for everyone, but the OP is wondering about why his boss is so upset and how he could have avoided that. If we all planned out how we'd handle these unexpected moments, we might avoid adding stress to an already emotional situation
    – Vlad274
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:45
  • @hspandher: Anyone I choose to hang around with doesn't suddenly turn into a discourteous individual just because they are having a rough time. It's nice for us to make more allowances than usual due to their issues, but it's also nobody else's fault that somebody died. The moment you start taking your bad luck out on innocent friends and colleagues is the moment you lose my respect. Fortunately, I don't know anybody with such little self-control that this has ever happened. Commented May 11, 2017 at 15:53
  • 2
    -1 bad advice. The OP does not need to mitigate the impact of their absence, even less to manage communication about their absence to avoid hurting the boss's feelings. Professionalism dictates that the OP give notice, and that's it. This is a serious family situation, not a vacation. Plus, by saying "What can I do to minimize my impact?" the OP would open themselves to unreasonable requests if they have an unreasonable boss.
    – user45590
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 13:47

Context is everything. In my country, when dealing with this situation (death of a close relative) you just have to notify your employer about the event because you're by law entitled to 3 working days off. Also, you have 3 days off when you're getting married. On similar stressful life events such as: hospitalization or the severe illness of a close relative, you have to notify and then your employer will tell you if you have time off.

  • 2
    Yes, context is everything. In my country it is perfectly valid for employers to fire an employee for attending a funeral without permission.
    – slebetman
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 22:33
  • 3
    @slebetman Yes and in my country that there would mean a 6-12 months salary to employee and public outrage
    – joojaa
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 15:03
  • 8
    @slebetman You must live in a horrible country. I feel for you. Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:34

If you are in an environment where management feels they have to 'manage' everyone's time and expect to 'approve' such requests, then yes, you should 'ask', fully expecting approval.

If you are in an environment where people are expected to manage their own time, then merely announcing in a professional way is acceptable.

  • 2
    Completely agree. And for the record in 40 years of working I have never worked anywhere where asking was not a requirement. I have also never worked anywhere that would turn down emergency leave unless the person seemed to be abusing it.
    – HLGEM
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:07
  • 1
    When I have had to take emergency leave (including when my boyfriend of 26 years died) I always went to my boss with a plan for coverage while I was out or at least a summary of what tasks needed to be covered.
    – HLGEM
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:09
  • 1
    @HLGEM Where I work, people are expected to manage themselves. Management, myself included, really don't want to be bothered with such trivialities. We'd never say no so don't bother to ask, basically.
    – DTRT
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:19
  • 2
    That's why I up voted you, because you mentioned both types of workplaces. However a plan for who will take over your work while you are gone is critical in both especially if you have immediate deadlines or provide production support..
    – HLGEM
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:21
  • 3
    Even in a situation where another person has to approve my time off, I would not ask permission for important life events such as family funerals. Even if asking was a "requirement" I would assume that my employer is sane and would understand that going to a family funeral is not up for debate. Why would you ask if you are going to ignore any response other than "yes"? Insisting that I ask permission to go to such an important event is so insulting and patronizing that I would leave that job on principle
    – Kevin
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:15

I'm sorry for your loss.

In the real world, time off is time off, regardless of if it's for bereavement or for leisure. In either circumstance, only your supervisor is authorized to grant you the time off or to decline it.

Since you've lost a family member, I also doubt that they're going to decline the request, but in the context of an office setting, the only people that need to know why you're taking the time off is you and your supervisor. Once it's been cleared, then and only then should you make any kind of announcement.

The last time I had bereavement leave, I was coming off of a week-long vacation. I had informed my supervisor the instant I knew when I'd be out, and declined to make any public announcements to anyone else when I had came back to work the following day. I had felt like it was handled professionally and succinctly, and the person who needed to fill out the appropriate paperwork was acutely aware of what was going on. If anyone else were brought into that loop, it'd add unnecessary channels of communication since they don't have to do anything while I'm out except their individual jobs; they can't handle the time-off request or anything like that.

A lot of people are thinking that the manager was in the wrong here, but I would say they'd only really be in the wrong if they gave you this feedback in the open instead of in a one-on-one setting. Even worse if they jumped down your throat about the matter. Since you're still learning, it's not unfair to expect to get feedback on something like this. It also wasn't unfair for them to say that it wasn't good to announce this to the entire floor.

(Note that I didn't mention them saying it was "unprofessional" since you yourself didn't state that they explicitly used the word "unprofessional". I'm sure that they understand what you're going through - or at least can sympathize - and aren't going to chide you for your actions based on that alone.)

  • The idea that you can be denied time off for bereavement depends on location. In many countries, you are legally allowed to take time off for it.
    – Erik
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 12:35
  • Even if legally they can deny your request for leave, the reality is that you will be going to the funeral either way (at least I hope you would), so unless you actually care what your manager thinks of your bereavement time, don't ask
    – Kevin
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:22

Regarding asking for time off...

If your manager says no, will you skip the funeral?

If the manager's refusal isn't going to change your behavior, don't ask. Just let him/her know when you'll be out and when you'll be returning.

At most companies where I have worked, the employee is entitled to time off for the funerals of close relatives, per the employee handbook. The manager has no say in the matter.

Of course you want to minimize any impact.


Is my supervisor/"employer" right for expecting me to ask for permission?


In most jurisdictions, an employee is guaranteed some leave time. However, when you get this time off, is not solely up to you. You ask for a leave at a specific time and your request may be granted or denied. That's why serious companies have vacation plans so it's agreed well ahead.

A similar thing goes with unexpected events that leave little time to prepare. You can ask for a leave because something important happened, but in most cases your manager can refuse. OFC, you can negotiate harder ("day off or I quit"), but it's still a negotiation. Because your employment is a deal between 2 parties, every thing in regard with that employment has to be agreed upon by both sides.

There are exceptions:

In some jurisdiction, labor law specifies list of cases when your employer is obligated to give you a day off. Often it's a death in immediate family. That means: your parent, your spouse or your child. And nobody else. If you want to attend a funeral of your uncle or grandma, you still have to ask for a day off and your request can be denied.

Another exception is explicit policy set by the company. Some companies do have extensive policies on occasional leaves, and grief is often on top of the list. So, when your situation matches one of the predefined conditions, your day off is granted automatically and your manager doesn't get a say on this.

You haven't stated 3 key things here: where are you, who died and if there is a company policy. If it's your wife in Germany - you were right, they can't hold you in, so there is no purpose in asking for what's rightfully yours. If it was your grandma or in some less regulated country (USA, maybe?) - your manager was not only right, but he could have ordered you to not take a day off. Not showing to work is a gross misconduct which is grounds for dismissal, possibly.

Again: always keep in mind that employment is a deal that you'll do work every day and they'll pay you for every week/month/whatever. Both sides have to agree to changes to that deal. You wouldn't want your employer to say "next day is off, without pay, because our contractor had an accident and lost the materials for you", wouldn't you? It's a same thing, just the other way around.

  • Even if this is legally correct where the OP works (or is a student technically), it is totally reasonable to decide summarily that you will be going to the funeral, and deal with the consequences later. If they decide that it wasn't justified and they fire you for it, then so be it, but I suspect that in most places any company found to be firing people for going to family funerals without "permission" would be harshly ridiculed
    – Kevin
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:25
  • @KevinWells It's legally correct pretty much everywhere. Your comment (and other answers) are based on assuming "goodwill" (that's OK!). However, to expect goodwill from an employer, one should demonstrate goodwill himself - by asking first. Doing something unilaterally and expecting the other party to accept it post factum, when you had time to discuss it in advance, is IMHO the definition of being unreasonable. (Unless you expect them to reject. Then you deliberately surprise them to deny them chance to explicitly state their position so can play dumb. But that's ill will, not a good one.)
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 6:18
  • @KevinWells And let me reiterate again, the key here is degree of relationship. A person with a very large extended family, can have dozens of 3rd degree cousins once removed, people who he possible had met few times in his life. Now pair that with mid-age, so the cousins in question are in their 80's and you can have a "funeral in family" several times a year. I don't think it's reasonable to excuse a key employee to no show few days before deadline, for that reason, without warning. Now contrast that with unexpected death of a child, and such circumstances are not even remotely comparable.
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 6:30
  • 1
    @Agent_L: There's a difference between doing something "without warning" and doing it without asking permission. The OP has given warning of the upcoming absence.
    – sumelic
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 6:43
  • @sumelic I was replying to Kevin. Might have overinterpreted his words, though.
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 7:22

As a matter of formality and a sign of mutual respect you ask. Everyone stating how the boss is cold or unprofessional needs to understand it's just a sign that you appreciate your supervisors role in the organization. That role is to ensure things are getting done.

  • 5
    This may be a cultural thing, but "a sign of mutual respect" isn't necessarily true. In some ways it's only one way respect - you respect your job and are willing to place it before family obligations. If you're going to go regardless of the answer, true mutual respect would require that you don't give your boss an option that you aren't actually extending. It would be like asking, "Do you want me to get lunch for you?" then when they say yes saying, "Oh, I wasn't actually expecting you to say yes, I'm not getting it." When you're ok with a "no" response, ask. Otherwise just announce.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 11:48
  • If there really is mutual respect, then the boss will respect the fact that family emergencies supersede company policy, and the worker will respect the policy in cases that are non-extreme. If someone reporting to me at work asked permission to go to a funeral I would be surprised, and would respond with something like "Of course you can go, you don't need my permission in situations like this, please be in touch if there is something we can do for you".
    – Kevin
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:18

In the US, most employers have a policy regarding bereavement that defines how much time off is allowed in the event an employeee's loved one dies. Of course, the language almost always includes "at the manager's discretion" meaning that the manager has leeway to allow more or less time. I've had to use this policy a couple of times with different experiences depending on the manager. Typically, you don't necessarily "ask" you manager for permission to go, the policy already gives you the permission, but you should inform your manager first, saying something like:

"My RELATIVE passed away recently, the service is on DATE, I need to be there, I'll be out DATES"

My experiences have varied. Most of my family resides in another state, several hours away by car. When my uncle died, I told my manager at the time and even though policy said I should only get one day, he knew that I'd need to travel and asked me to be back by the following Monday (The service was on a Wednesday, I told him the previous Friday). When my grandmother died, I told my manager (not the same one) and he challenged me, "Do you really need to be gone?" "You're going to have to make up those hours when you get back." "I'll need to see the obituary first." He was a complete ass about the whole thing. Eventually, I wound up going to HR and they intervened with him, but it was still a huge hassle and he made a difficult time even more so. Either way, know what the policy is and let your boss know first.


I'm sorry to hear of your loss.

Lots of other people have mentioned legal, professional, other issues, et cetera, but my answer to your question would be this: No, your supervisor is not correct: They are acting inappropriately.

Think of this as a matter of priorities:

During your professional life, you will work for a few organisations. Many of them will be quite realistic, as far as your current exercise is concerned, and you will frequently encounter situations where your supervisor will run a team ragged, and insist that you make up for the lack of budget (or prior planning) by sacrificing your personal time to compensate.

Should the amount of time you spend on their project lead to burn-out, or even a divorce, they will not care - and will simply chew you up and spit you out, the moment you've outlived your usefulness.

Your family, on the other hand, is not just a higher priority, but in a category of priority that no employer could (or should) ever hold a candle to. They are with you for life, while an employer is only with you for as long as you are more valuable to them than the amount of money they can get you to accept.

By all means, be professional and inform your employer that you will be attending to your relative, rather than forcing them to wonder what happened to you. However, to use the RACI model in ITIL, your employer moves from the Consulted category to the Informed category, when it comes to urgent family matters.

By the way, enjoy the funeral. It might sound like a strange thing to say, but it will be one of those few events in life that really pull your family together. The last funeral I attended made me realise just how important and precious the whole family was, and how much we missed seeing each other together.

  • 1
    +1 for "You can have another job but you can never have new family."
    – Crowley
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:51

Is my supervisor/"employer" right for expecting me to ask for permission?

There are two ways to look at this, and in one perspective I'd say the employer shouldn't have even suggested that you were out of line. In the other perspective, though, their demand isn't unreasonable.

There are certain events in life that qualify as emergencies. An emergency is an unforeseen event that requires immediate action.

A death in the family is an emergency. In some cases this would require no notification, even. If I found out that a close relative had died recently, the funeral was being held shortly after I found out with just enough time to get there, I'd leave work and possibly not tell anyone on the way out. Perhaps I'd contact them later or the next day when I had time.

Given that you have a few days, it's of course wise to communicate the emergency, the impact it'll have on your work, but they should recognize that it takes precedence over work and they should understand that you don't need or want their approval - you're going either way.

To ask them for permission may be seen by some as a sign of respect, but in one way it's disrespectful. You aren't actually offering them a choice. If they say no you're still going to go. So offering them a choice which they don't really have is, at best, manipulative. It's far from a respectful gesture.

That said, you have a contract or agreement, and generally you've promised to appear and work at certain times for periods of time. You are now going to break that promise. Granted, it's for a more important thing - an emergency - however from a business relationship perspective what you're really asking is very different than what you're saying:

"I'm experiencing an emergency which requires that I break our contract/arrangement in order to attend to the emergency. Will you permit this with no change in our agreement? "

You're not asking to go to the funeral. You're asking if your job will still be there when you get back. In many places it's illegal to fire you for bereavement and many other types of emergencies, so there's no need to ask, however, as a sign of professional courtesy, this shows that you recognize that using those laws to break your contract/agreement still involves breaking your word or promise.

So I can understand the business manager's perspective.

I don't share it, though, and I agree generally that for emergencies you should take the time off you need, inform your employer as soon as reasonable, but you never need to ask whether you can have the time off to attend to the emergency.

  • 2
    I almost downvoted for "their demand isn't unreasonable", but now I'm tempted to upvote for "You're not asking to go to the funeral. You're asking if your job will still be there when you get back".
    – Kevin
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:27

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