Paid vacation for broken-hearted

By Liz Garrett
April 24, 2008

Break-ups. Is there anyone who can honestly say a positive word about them? Try being a part of a relationship for three years and then out of nowhere, here come those dreaded words. A guy pulls his girlfriend aside one night and of course she thinks everything is going great between them. All of a sudden he drops that well-known phrase: “we have to talk.”

Before she can get a word in he goes on and on about how things just are not working out the way he thought they would. She wonders if he is really telling the truth. “It isn’t you, it’s me,” he says to portray his guiltiness. Then that pretty much sums it up. Both a three-year relationship and best friends have disappeared as if they never existed.

It always seems to work out that when break-ups strike so does being called into a 12-hour workday. Great timing as usual. Imagine if there was a way to simply call out of work in the event of a rough break-up, and still reap the benefit of getting paid. There is nothing like getting paid to sit at home on a comfy couch in front of the TV eating the world’s biggest bowl of ice cream.

For Hime & Company, a Tokyo-based marketing firm, this new “heartache leave” is widely accepted and available for a varied range of women. The Japanese company strongly believes that if a woman is in the middle of a painful break-up, then she has the right to take a certain amount of time off with pay. When compared to maternity leave, Hime & Company says that not all women end up using it. However with heartache leave, it gives people the appropriate time off just like calling in for sickness.

Women who are 24 years and younger are permitted one day off per year for heartache, ages 25 to 29 are allowed two days and those who are any older are granted three days off. They support their decision by saying that women who are past their 20s need more time to work through break-ups, and that younger women’s relationships tend to come and go.

The overall idea of consenting to time off for break-ups is excellent, and I would hope that more and more companies follow in these footsteps. If anything, my only concern would be that employees will most likely abuse this privilege and falsely claim that they are skipping work for that reason. In the company’s best interests, they should consider finding a way to prove that the person is in fact taking time off for heartache and then decide whether they want to use this proposal.

I do strongly disagree with one aspect of the Tokyo-based company’s view on heartbreak and time off. It is not at all fair to use age groups to determine how many days the individual deserves to have off for heartache. Instead, why not base it on the woman’s case and her personal situation? There is difficulty for all ages to mend a broken heart. Therefore, I do not see the point in generalizing.

Additionally, time off for break-ups should be in effect for men also because they warrant the same benefits as women. It is untrue to say that women have their hearts torn out more than men. I would encourage companies to keep men in mind if they decide to adopt heartache leave.

Trying to overcome a broken heart is without a doubt one of the most feared challenges. Having the advantage of taking even one day off from work would make all the difference in the world and I am sure both women and men would greatly appreciate it.

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Liz Garrett

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