What You Need To Know About Bereavement Leave

Bereavement LeaveUpdated May 6, 2020

Grief and Bereavement in California

There is no Federal law mandating bereavement leave, so each state is left to legislate this process (if they so choose) independently.

New York recently passed a bill (pending action by the governor) that would mandate three months paid bereavement leave after the death of a family member or (specified) loved one. 😲 As a result, the question came up about the laws governing California*.

California does NOT have a law that says employers must provide bereavement leave or time off to attend a funeral. It’s all dictated by company policy that would be outlined in an employee handbook. Side note, all companies should have an employee handbook – and if they don’t, we have contacts for them.

Some companies will offer time off based on employment status and whether an employee is part-time or full-time. Again, it depends on their own policies in their employee handbook.

With that said, employers cannot block an employee from taking up to three days off for bereavement – paid or unpaid.

Actual Text from the California Labor Code:


Section 230.5 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

(a) It is unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by any employee to take up to three days of bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner.

Also noteworthy:

If a company does not have a policy such as paid bereavement, employees could use their sick time that’s mandated by the State, if they have any available. They could also use PTO (paid time off) or any other time off accrual.

We hope you never have to mourn the loss of a loved one, but it’s best if employers and employees know these rules before they actually need them.

*If you have questions for a different state, just message us.

Bereavement Leave – UPDATE 5/6/2020

Please be aware there is a current Assembly Bill pending that may affect the Bereavement Leave policy for some businesses. You can read more about the potential impact on employers here.

“Due to the pandemic, AB 2999 remains in committee, but the amendment process has recently commenced. Potential amendments might include an effort to exclude small businesses from the new mandate, and require employees to have a certain period of employment before qualifying for the leave.” – National Law Review

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