Can I skip work?
January 22, 2007 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Is it ok if I miss a planned work trip to attend my wife's grandfather's funeral?

I have a nonessential work trip planned for this weekend. But my wife has to go to her grandfather's funeral in Florida. Can I skip the work trip to go with her?
posted by ubu to Work & Money (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Under circumstances where a "real" excuse was required to justify an absence I would consider wife's grandmother to be kind of a bunk excuse. Unlikely to get you fired, likely to be seen as part of a pattern of general slackery and a non-team-oriented mindset.

However, it really depends on how "nonessential" the trip is. If it is going to irk your bosses if you cancel on this with less than a week's advance notice I would think grandmother-in-law's funeral would be seen as a sketchy excuse. Mitigating circumstances if your wife was "really close" to grandma, and is "kind of broken up" about her death, and you consequently "want to be there" for her.
posted by nanojath at 8:32 PM on January 22, 2007

In a word? Yes.

Well, I suppose it depends on how close to her grandfather your wife is; if she was close to him, it's your duty to go. You'd be surprised how much gestures like that mean.
posted by tehgubner at 8:32 PM on January 22, 2007

Am I the only one who still thinks family is more important than work?

If your wife is going down there, it will probably be stressful for her even if she didn't care much for her grandfather (she will probably be dealing with closer relatives who are more upset about it and having to support them). Either way, this is a perfect time to be with your wife and also enjoy the lovely(er) weather in Florida.

It's a nonessential work trip, so you don't have to go. You also don't have to go with your wife to her grandfather's funeral. So you should just choose to do whichever one you want to do.

Just, you know, remember you're at a funeral. Try not to look to cheerful about missing work.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:05 PM on January 22, 2007

Yeah. Sorry, nanojath, but your answer is way off the mark. Maybe you have a different definition of family than mine, but as far as I'm concerned, any family funeral trumps work. Always.

Family comes first.
posted by geekhorde at 9:11 PM on January 22, 2007

Now if it was your wife's second cousin... maybe I could see nanojath's answer as valid. But your wife's grandfather? Go to the funeral.
posted by geekhorde at 9:12 PM on January 22, 2007

It's impossible to answer this question definitively. The answer varies from person-to-person. It depends on your job and on your boss. It depends on how close your wife (and you) was to her grandfather. It depends on your attendence pattern at work. It depends on your commitment to family. The three people you should really be asking are yourself, your wife, and your boss. There's no way random strangers can help you with this.
posted by jdroth at 9:15 PM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

The three people you should really be asking are yourself, your wife, and your boss.

I agree with this.

FWIW, when the same thing happened to me I talked to first my boyfriend then my boss about it. He said only I would know how much support my partner would need and wether I should be at the funeral, and that the weekend work I was worried about was non-essential and someone else could cover. In the end I didn't go (a decision I made with my boyfriend after talking to my boss) and was able to do the extra work myself, but only you will know what will fly with your boss and your wife.
posted by shelleycat at 9:52 PM on January 22, 2007

Yes. Just say you need to go to a funeral; you don't need to go into your exact relation to the deceased--although, if pressed, saying it's for your wife's grandfather and you want/need to be there for her should be enough.

If your boss is at all reasonable, they'll understand that funerals often happen unexpectedly and can mess with existing plans.

Do tell your boss as soon as possible, though, to make things less awkward for them (it should be easier to find someone else to go or get a refund or something with more notice).
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 9:52 PM on January 22, 2007

Actually I think the answer to this question is really easy. The poster said the work trip is nonessential. It's also over a weekend, which in many but not all jobs is usually understood to be family rather than work time. It's your wife's grandfather, not a more distant relative. If your wife's parents are alive, they will likely be there and upset as well.

Family first. Go be with your wife and her family. Someday you are going to want her there with you, too.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:56 PM on January 22, 2007

The three people you should really be asking are yourself, your wife, and your boss.

agreed, and perhaps co-workers.

Business trip on the weekend? If you are going to find yourself in some sunny clime playing golf on this trip I think you better seriously consider going with your wife instead.
posted by caddis at 10:08 PM on January 22, 2007

I missed a whole week of work to go to my husband's grandfather's funeral in Iceland and no questions were asked of me by my workplace other than "Was it a nice service?"

If anyone gives you flack, the Family and Medical Leave Act covers situations like this. Some companies even have a certain amount of "grief time" built in to their benefits plans. (I worked for a place that offered five paid days for a death in the family.)

Be with your family. There's no reason a non-essential work commitment should trump your commitment to your wife and she'll be grateful that you were there for support.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:08 PM on January 22, 2007

Deathalicious : Am I the only one who still thinks family is more important than work?

You are not. I have an employee who I had just hired less than a month before, who came to me in a near panic explaining that his semi-estranged daughter in a different state had made a suicide attempt (from the get-go it was pretty clearly a call for attention, but that didn't factor into anything.) In my company, you are still under probation for the first six months, and you have no sick or vacation time from HR's standpoint.

He rightly wanted to go to her, and was worried that his job wouldn't be there when he got back. I care not for HR's opinions, and I made it happen. Because 1.) it was the correct thing to do, and 2.) as his boss, I need him to believe that, as long as he does his job, [and in our line of work, the job description can vary from day to day,] I will have his back.

Because of shit like this, I have a fairly loyal team.

But jdroth does raise some compelling points. It depends on the people you work for, and the job that you do. If peoples lives are on the line, or something, that might make a difference. You didn't explain in your question what kind of work you do, so the word 'nonessential' doesn't really help. If you are a EMT, and the nonessential work function is going to a seminar about new techniques on using a piece of mundane equipment that will save lives, then you might need to talk to your boss and reschedule.

Or maybe you are a web developer who has been with your company for the last five years and has accrued a plenty of sick time. Maybe your meeting is going to a discussion on the new and improved ways to use flash, and no one will suffer in your absence. You didn't say, so we can only guess.

But if you have been with the company for a while, and you have sick time, use it. Your wife is more important.
posted by quin at 10:28 PM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with jdroth.

I just want to add that if you feel strongly that you need to participate in this work trip in at least some limited capacity, you could ask to arrange a conference call number (or a bridge number, as some people say). If it's non-essential, this may not be necessary at all, but if you're worried about appearance you could offer if up; i.e., "I'm really sorry but I have to attend this funeral to support my wife, but I can try to dial-in to a conference line during the important meetings."
posted by mullacc at 10:40 PM on January 22, 2007

If your wife was close to her grandfather you have to go.

I lost my grandpa ten years ago and I didn't have a husband but I'm pretty sure I would have hurt deeply if he didn't attend.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:04 PM on January 22, 2007

I agree with it's a call only you can make... The fact you are asking suggests you weren't that close to the deceased; but remember that being supportive just by being there could be a huge gift to your wife and her family. All in all, it's only work... I think us humans are a bit too caught up in this makin' a dollar world now days.
posted by teststrip at 12:56 AM on January 23, 2007

2 of my grandparents passed away in the last 18 months and while my spouse didn't come with me to the funerals (primarily because we didn't want to bring the travelling circus of 2 toddlers along) her employer's policies would have permitted her to miss time without question.
posted by smcniven at 6:42 AM on January 23, 2007

Speaking for myself, and having no knowledge of your situation, I would quit my job if my boss suggested this.

"Under circumstances where a 'real' excuse was required to justify an absence I would consider wife's grandmother to be kind of a bunk excuse."

Maybe I'm the exception, but I'd rather not work at all than work for someone who expected me to abandon my family when they are likely to need me most.
posted by dseaton at 6:58 AM on January 23, 2007

You could have asked this too:
"Is it ok if I miss my wife's grandfather's funeral because of a planned work trip?"
posted by I Foody at 8:01 AM on January 23, 2007

Grapfruitmoon: I don't think FMLA applies here. By my reading, it seems that it would cover time off to care for someone who's sick but I don't see anything about funerals.
posted by MasterShake at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2007

"I would consider wife's grandmother to be kind of a bunk excuse"

holy shit!

ubu, I think it all boils down to how close your wife was to her grandfather and whether she wants, or needs you there.

however, as to being a "bunk" excuse, that just boggles my mind.

"part of a pattern of general slackery and a non-team-oriented mindset"

excuse me? are you just taking the piss here? An employee of yours tells you he has to go to a funeral of a close family member of his wife... and that goes through your head?

Something tells me you've got the whole work-life balance thing a bit wrong.

Speaking for myself, and having no knowledge of your situation, I would quit my job if my boss suggested this
spot on
posted by derbs at 12:45 PM on January 23, 2007

Speaking as a the chief of a small magazine (with a team of ~40) it is very okay for you to cancel your work trip to attend the funeral.
Socially, I would almost see it as inappropriate for you to send your wife to the funeral alone, while you are on a "nonessential" business trip.

Do you perhaps have other reasons for feeling uncomfortable about going to this funeral?
posted by Count Ziggurat at 4:45 PM on January 23, 2007

I could point out that one's opinion on how something may be perceived (what I interpreted this question to be about) is not the same as one's opinion on what is the correct thing to do. In terms of my "work life balance," well, I'm a stay-at-home father so you be the judge. My answer reveals my low opinion of bosses in general rather than of grandmas - when my wife's grandma died I accompanied her to the funeral, and if Ubu had asked "should I go to this funeral" my answer would have been yes, if it is important to your wife that you do so. You people are hopelessly naive, though, if you believe that a wide cross-section of bosses would not, indeed, think of this as a poorly justified excuse. That's just an opinion, I've never been the boss of anyone and probably never will.
posted by nanojath at 10:57 AM on January 24, 2007

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