Sunday 25 September 2016

Family charged 'grief tax' for doing 'overtime' at relative's grave

Harriet Alexander in Sydney

Published 21/05/2015 | 02:30

A spokesman for Brisbane City Council, which operates the cemetery, said the overtime fees at council cemeteries represented the cost of staff overtime wages. Photo: Thinkstock Images
A spokesman for Brisbane City Council, which operates the cemetery, said the overtime fees at council cemeteries represented the cost of staff overtime wages. Photo: Thinkstock Images

A family in Australia were furious after being told that they would have to pay overtime fees to remain by their relative's grave.

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The widow of the deceased man was paying her respects at the graveside in Brisbane when a funeral home representative explained that the overtime fee of AU$280 (€198) would kick in.

The Pinnaroo Cemetery and Crematorium shut at 4pm, but the funeral cortege had been delayed in heavy traffic, the family said. Brisbane City Council charges €198 for every 30 minutes beyond closing time, and up to AU$1,450 (€1,030) for burials outside of normal working hours - at weekends or on public holidays.

"I was told that Pinnaroo operates as a business," a family member said. "It's a grave-robbing grief tax."

A spokesman for Brisbane City Council, which operates the cemetery, said the overtime fees at council cemeteries represented the cost of staff overtime wages.

"Council cemeteries are community facilities with set operating hours," he said.

"While the council does make the cemeteries available for funerals outside [the] hours of 7.30am to 4.30pm, overtime fees apply and are payable by the family.

"When a service is requested to occur outside standard hours, any additional fees are made clear to the funeral director so the family can be advised. Information about fees and charges is published in cemetery information brochures and are set annually in the council's budget."

However, the council later announced that it was waiving the fee in this instance.

"While it is great that they [council] have acknowledged this, unfortunately it was not until we went to the press about it that this happened," a family spokesman said.

"They had the chance to [address the issue] on many occasions. We wish for this to never happen to other families, particularly when they are mourning.

"It's the last thing you want to deal with." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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