Dinesh Divekar
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Good Day, My friend is an Administrative Officer in an HR Department. His job schedule was changed recently, and the new one has an unusual responsibility: to represent the Department at Funerals.
Can a normal job schedule go beyond the authorised working days? Can attending funeral be part of a job schedule? My friend is very worried about the development.
26th April 2017 From Ghana, Accra
Dear Tiimorg,
Your friend is administrative officer. In case of the death of the employee, a representative of the company is sent to attend the employee's funeral. Generally this work is assigned to administration personnel across the world. Being Admin Officer, this is what your friend is doing.
But then the question arises about number of deaths per month. Are the funerals happening at that high frequency so as to make him worried? He must be doing scores of other admin activities and so is this one. Going further, by attending funerals on the weekends, he could be forgoing his weekly off albeit partially. However, how many times this happened? Why he did not ask compensatory off?
I am little surprised that the query of this kind should find place on the general HR forum.
Thanks,
Dinesh Divekar
26th April 2017 From India, Bangalore
#Anonymous
I see that you are based in Accra. As per the regulations in Ghana, your friend will be entitled for a compensatory off, in case he attends office or office related work on an off day. This entitlement is upto Managerial level. I believe, your friend is just an Administrative officer and hence he is entitled for compensatory off, whenever he attends funerals of his colleagues or their family members on off days. And when the funeral happens on a working day, which would be seldom, it will be deemed as on duty. Rules of West African countries are different than those in other parts of the world. Your friend will also be entitled for transport allowance whenever he attends a funeral.

For info of my Asian friends, funeral is a huge ritual and celeberation in West Africa. Many times, the dead person is placed in a mortuary for months together and sometimes even for a year, till the family members accumulate enough money to throw a very big feast to his entire community to which he belongs, apart from his relatives. The family most of the time incurs heavy debt to conduct funeral. Its a celeberation because they believe the temporary life in this world has ended and the dead person is going back to where he belongs. The rituals are too many. New clothes have to be bought for all the relatives. There has to be wine and delicacies flowing. Sometimes funerals happen rapidly one after the other, since all those who have placed the bodies in the mortuaries have found money to conduct funeral for their loved ones. And many times, one will find an employee normally attending funerals almost every weekend continuosly for many weeks on the go.

Mortuary business is a very big business in West Africa on account of these rituals.
27th April 2017 From Indonesia, Jakarta
Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for educating me on the rituals after death in West Africa. I did not know the elaborateness of these rituals. In other countries, attending funeral is just few hours activity. All that company representative has to do is to place wreathe and beyond that nothing.
Thanks,
Dinesh Divekar
27th April 2017 From India, Bangalore
Even in India, down south the scale of funeral rituals are elaborate and costly. Though these people don't extend it to be for months atleast on the day of funeral good money is spent on rath, beating drums, crackers, drinks etc. food expenses are low though. But on the day of obsequies rites, say, on the 11th or 40th or/and anniversary lavish feast is thrown. The friends' assigned responsibilities more or less like the Protocol Officer of a state/central govt. who are expected to perform certain key functions on behalf of the govt. Like this he can be proved of as he can be considered as a Protocol Officer of his co. Let him cherish the experience though not liked.
27th April 2017 From India, Bangalore
#Anonymous
Dear Mr. Kumar,

The cost incurred in South of India for funerals is miniscule compared to what is incurred in West Africa. In West Africa, people get into life long debt on account of a funeral in the family. Some people even have to sell their piece of land to incur such heavy cost. We have operations in Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Ghana. As part of welfare activity, we provide for funeral subsidy to employees and that does not suffice. So we provide for an interest free loan apart from funeral subsidy. And many employees still incur heavy loans outside, since what is offered by the company does not suffice. The expenses incurred for a funeral is much much more than what is incurred in a wedding. The head priest and the community leaders will refuse to attend the funeral ceremony and conduct rituals when minimum requirements are not met in terms of feasting and Celebrations which are part of their tribal tradition.

That is one of the reasons private mortuaries flourish as a business in West Africa. In South India, the rituals are time bound and is defined as to when what ceremony has to happen. Whereas, in West Africa, the bodies are kept in mortuaries not only for months together,but, sometimes even for a couple of years, because the kith and kin have to mobilise the money for the grand rituals as prescribed by their tradtition. I regularly visit Lagos and have lived there for 3 years. My driver's mother had died. My driver had to keep the body in the mortuary for more than one and a half years to mobilise the required funds. This was despite the fact that he could avail the funeral subsidy from the company equivalent to 3 months salary, a funeral loan from the company equivalent to 6 months salary. That was not enough. It took him one and a half years to sell his small piece of land over and above the company schemes to mobilise the required funds to organise the funeral. Please watch the the Nigerian movie, " Naija goes to heaven" to understand the burden of a common man in West Africa to organise a funeral.
27th April 2017 From Indonesia, Jakarta
Thanks for the contributions. They are well noted. However, there is an aspect I need a clearance for. Is it proper to put attending funeral on weekends as part of an employee's normal job description; that is where the issue is. An officer can be asked to attend funeral on behalf of the organization, but making that as one of the job descriptions is worrying. Your inputs please.
27th April 2017 From Ghana, Accra
#Anonymous
Dear TIIMORG, Its fine to be part of Job Description, since that becomes part of his job.
27th April 2017 From Indonesia, Jakarta
Thank you our friend from Khana for providing the details and I appreciate the time taken. What a precarious situation there. Sad. Some families of Muslim communities also have to perform certain procedures connected to the death of a member of the family. My driver described like this, through out the year following the funerals he had to distribute provisions and clothing to his relatives. Poor chaps.
TIIMORG,
If the job profile includes like this what one can do. But who knows it could be an added advantage too. It's customary even in India, especially large industrial units, the W & LO use to represent the co. in the funerals of employees, ex-employees and offer co's contribution towards funeral expenses. It's common in mining industry where the frequency and rate of deaths-in-service comparatively high. I have also done this when some of my staff died so. Nothing wrong doing this noble duty.
28th April 2017 From India, Bangalore
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