Woolworths rejected a worker’s leave to go scatter his father’s ashes

‘Woolies rejected my leave to go scatter my father ashes’: Grieving worker reveals how supermarket bosses cruelly rejected a few days off to farewell his dad – and gave zero explanation

  • Senior Woolworths staff member wanted to spread father’s ashes 
  • He requested four days off to be with family but manager declined
  •  Heartless rejection prompted wave of horror stories about retail managers

An Australian Woolworths employee who applied for time off work so he could scatter his father’s ashes has seen the request declined.

The employee asked for four days off in April 2023 to perform the solemn task with family but was knocked back without explanation by a store manager.

He shared the heartless rejection by his bosses on Reddit on Monday, sparking a wave of support and emboldening other users to share horror stories of retail managers.

The man’s father passed away suddenly in 2017 and it took more than five years to plan arrangements for the farewell ceremony. 

An Australian Woolworths employee who applied for time off work so he could scatter his father's ashes has seen the request shockingly declined. Pictured, the man's rejection email

An Australian Woolworths employee who applied for time off work so he could scatter his father’s ashes has seen the request shockingly declined. Pictured, the man’s rejection email

The employee asked for four days off work in April 2023 to join with family in spreading the ashes but was knocked back without explanation by a store manager. Pictured, a stock image of mourners

The employee asked for four days off work in April 2023 to join with family in spreading the ashes but was knocked back without explanation by a store manager. Pictured, a stock image of mourners

Finding times that family members could be free at the same time was part of the delay, then bushfires and Covid lockdowns and restrictions caused unexpected hold-ups.

The family also wanted to find the right hotel to base themselves at while scattering the ashes over several days.

‘We are booked, to go to the place we used to holiday at every year when we were kids as it’s a place filled with very fond memories of him,’ the employee wrote in his reddit post.

He also made sure he had enough accrued leave (he had over 50 hours worth) and was giving plenty of advance warning (he asked three months ahead of the planned dates).

‘I just got an automated email telling me it’s been rejected by the manager.’

A spokesperson for Woolworths said it could not comment on the leave rejection because no details were available for it to follow up on

A spokesperson for Woolworths said it could not comment on the leave rejection because no details were available for it to follow up on

He said the reason for the request would have been apparent to the person processing his form. 

‘In the leave request I added a note “going away with family to scatter my father’s ashes”. 

‘This note is immediately visible to the approver, I know this as I was previously a department manager.’

What made the rejection even harder to take was that the manager who made the decision knew the family affected – and the sad circumstances of the death.

‘They know my family as one of my brothers used to work with them and the managers partner used to work for my dad. 

‘So they are aware of the circumstances of my father death and that it was five years ago.’

The man was not planning to accept the apparently cruel decision.

‘I will be discussing this with the store manager, and I expect they will have my leave approved,’ he said.

Should the decision stand he hoped there might be a better company to turn to. 

‘Coincidently I have a job interview soon. It’s closer to where I live and pays about 80 to 90per cent more.’

The post sparked plenty of fiery responses from other reddit users.

Many agreed the rejection was a sign it could be time to quit.

‘When an employer is slamming a rejection at the feet of an employee this hard under these circumstances, it’s an abusive relationship,’ one user commented.

‘Cut them out of your life like a cancer and never look back.’

Another called the leave rejection ‘a real a***hole move.’

One person shared their own frustratingly similar anecdote.

The person said he had quit working at Coles in 2001 after he had a leave request denied after the death of a family member. 

‘I ended up just quitting and walking out when my request for a day off to attend my grandfather’s funeral was denied because he wasn’t a part of my immediate family.’

One person claimed the rejection was likely to have happened through bad luck.

‘This is specific to your line manager, I haven’t had a request knocked back yet. This is very disappointing though.’

A spokesperson for Woolworths said it could not comment on the case because no specific details were given.

‘In this case, because there’s no information for us to follow up internally, the team member should raise any concern with their manager or our People Services team so it can be better understood and addressed.

‘Team members are entitled to a variety of leave including bereavement and other forms of personal leave.’

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