Compliance/Best Practices Employment Law Legal Topics

Do CA Employers Have to Give Bereavement Leave?

thinkstockphotos-57563828When a death occurs in an employee’s family, does a California employer have to provide paid time off? The answer: it depends.

For private employers, California law doesn’t require that they provide bereavement leave.

But many private employers choose to provide bereavement leave as a matter of policy. These policies typically provide that the employer provides for paid bereavement leave or allows employees to use accrued vacation, sick leave, or PTO for this purpose.

The policy may offer extended bereavement leave for the death of a family member outside California or in cases in which the employee will serve as the executor of the decedent’s estate. It is also common for these policies to require documentation of the relationship and the death (e.g., a copy of the obituary, a memorial card from a funeral home, or a death certificate).

For example, a bereavement leave policy might state:

  • If there is a death in your immediate family, specifically, a spouse, domestic partner, parent, grandparent, child, sister, brother, or blood relative living with you, you will be given 3 working days’ leave with pay.
  • A 1-day leave with pay will be given in the event of the death of other relatives, including aunt, uncle, in-law, parent of domestic partner, niece, nephew, or cousin.
  • Floating holidays may be used in other instances of bereavement.

Of course, employers have complete discretion to set the terms and conditions of any voluntary bereavement leave they choose to provide, as long as they do so in a way that doesn’t unlawfully discriminate.

In contrast to the private sector, bereavement leave is mandatory for some employees in the public sector. Those employees qualify for paid bereavement leave of up to 3 days when a death occurs in an employee’s family or household. The following requirements apply (Govt C §19859.3(a)–(b)):

  • The leave must be granted for the “death of a person related by blood, adoption, or marriage, or any person residing in the immediate household of the employee at the time of death”;
  • The employee must provide advance notice of the need for leave to his or her immediate supervisor;
  • The employee must provide documentation confirming the death; and
  • The employee may take an additional 2 days (without pay or by accrued sick leave) if the death occurred outside California.

If the employee needs additional bereavement leave, he or she may use accrued vacation or compensating time off, or take an authorized leave without pay, subject to approval. Govt C §19859.3(c).

For more on bereavement and all types of employee leave, turn to CEB’s new book Employee Leave Laws: Compliance and Litigation.

Other CEBblog™ blog posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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