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Woman Creates Online Petition to Increase Bereavement Leave in Massachusetts

"We're not trying to get people out of work," Laura Madaio said. "We're trying to get back to work easier."

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For many, bereavement leave isn't something they think about until they need it, and the time they get depends on their employer.

For Laura Madaio, she was on paid bereavement leave from work for three weeks following the sudden death of her father in 2018.

John Madaio was driving down Route 9 in Spencer on August 13 when a crowbar went through his windshield and killed him.

"It was absolutely the worst day of any of our lives," said Madaio, her dad's youngest daughter.

There is currently no bereavement leave law in Massachusetts, or any other New England state.

"My hope is that more people realize this is an ongoing issue in the state and beyond the state and we need to start talking about it," Madaio said.

Federally, according to the Department of Labor, it's not covered in the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The only state in the country that has a law on the books is Oregon, where people can get up to two weeks of paid time off to plan the funeral, attend, and grieve.

A 2017 survey done by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found 94-percent of organizations have paid bereavement leave.

A majority of them offer three days of leave for the death of a spouse or child. If an aunt, uncle, niece or nephew dies, though, it's common to receive one day.

"There's no timestamp on how you survive grief and how long it takes you to get over it," Madaio said. "The fact is you don't get over it."

On Tuesday, Madaio started an online petition asking Governor Charlie Baker to increase bereavement leave in Massachusetts. More than 3,900 people had signed as of Friday night.

"We're not trying to get people out of work," she said. "We're trying to get back to work easier."

Madaio said the best case scenario is to get a law on the books, and the plan is to get the petition to Gov. Baker in the near future.

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