Bereavement Leave

California workers now have the right to 5 days of bereavement leave for the loss of an immediate family member, effective January 1, 2023. This guide, by the CRD, outlines eligibility, usage, and employer obligations for employees and employers.

By Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Following the passing away of an immediate family member, most California workers are entitled to a maximum of 5 days of bereavement leave. This FAQ (frequently asked questions) paper was produced by the CRD (Civil Rights Department), which is in charge of enforcing the entitlement to bereavement leave. Its effective date is 1st January 2023, and it is intended to assist both employees and employers in understanding this right.

1. Do I have access to bereavement leave?

Following the passing of one or more family members, you can be eligible for bereavement leave if you are employed by a firm with 5 or more workers. A qualifying employee can ask for a maximum of 5 days of absence from the job following the loss of a family member. This requirement takes effect on 1st January 2023 for private firms with 5 or more workers. An employee has to work for the company for a minimum of thirty days in order to be qualified for bereavement leave. Employees of the State govt. of California as well as local governments are eligible for bereavement leave.

2. Which relatives may I use my bereavement leave for?

Employers are only obligated to allow their employees to take bereavement leave in the event that specific family members pass away. When a child, spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, grandchild, parent-in-law, or domestic partner passes away, you must be able to obtain bereavement leave from your eligible employer. However, if a person you had a relationship with passes away, your employer might willingly permit you to go on bereavement leave.

3. What happens if my company already offers bereavement leave?

The current bereavement leave arrangement implemented by your employer must be adhered to. For instance, with the new rule, you will still need to notify the HR department when you are using bereavement leave if your company’s policy calls for it. In the event that the company’s policy fails to offer a minimum of 5 days of leave (bereavement) after the passing of someone close to you (as indicated in question 2), you are legally entitled to an additional five days of absence.

4. Does my entire bereavement leave have to be taken at once?

No, but you’re allowed to use your leave within the 3 months following the deceased person’s passing. In the event of a parent’s death, for instance, you may take 3 days off work right away and then 2 days off two months later.

5. After I take a bereavement leave, does the company have to allow me to get back to work?

Sure. Employers are not allowed to treat you unfairly or to take adverse action against you just because you asked for or utilized bereavement leave. Because you sought or utilized bereavement leave, your employer is not allowed to fire you, demote you, suspend you, or take any other unfavorable action against you. If you alert CRD about yourself or a colleague’s application for bereavement leave, your employer is also prohibited from taking negative steps against you.

6. Can I only take bereavement leave in response to one death each year?

No. After any member of your family passes away, you are eligible to utilize up to 5 days of bereavement leave (as stated in point 2). For instance, an employee is entitled to 3 five-day bereavement leaves in a given year if they lose a child, parent, and grandparent all in the same year.

7. Will my ability to take other forms of protected absence from work be reduced if I use bereavement leave?

No. You still have the ability to take various kinds of protected absence from job duties in addition to and apart from bereavement leave. Other than bereavement leave, qualified California workers are allowed a maximum of 12 weeks of absence from work to attend to a serious medical issue of themselves, someone in their family with a life-threatening illness, or to form a connection with a newborn baby (also referred to as CFRA Leave or California Family Rights Act Leave). Furthermore, pregnant or childbearing-related disabilities, as well as other qualifying medical conditions, entitle qualifying California workers to a maximum of four months of break (sometimes referred to as pregnancy disability time).

8. I’m taking a bereavement leave; is my company required to compensate me?

Not until you make use of alternative paid time off. The legislation does not mandate that companies compensate you for the time you spend on leave, even though they must offer no less than bereavement leave of 5 days to staff members. Verify with your company about any current procedures they might have established regarding bereavement leave since many firms have paid leave plans in place. Employers are also obligated to permit you to take paid leave, such as vacation, personal time, sick leave, or other types of paid leave, in the event that they do not offer compensated bereavement leave and you are eligible to use them in order to get paid while on bereavement leave.

9. Does taking bereavement leave require me to give my company any paperwork?

Yes, upon request. You must give the company the death certificate if they ask for it. It is not necessary for you to submit this paperwork prior to starting your leave, though. Rather, you need to submit this paperwork no later than thirty days from the start of the bereavement leave. This record-keeping could take the shape of an obituary, death certificate, or official confirmation of death, funeral, or memorial ceremony from a government agency, funeral home, mortuary, burial organization, or crematorium.

This paperwork is secret and may not be disclosed by your company to outside parties or internal staff unless mandated by law.

10. Do I have the right to bereavement leave since I work for a union and we have a collective bargaining arrangement?

Sure. It is mandatory for bargaining contracts to include a minimum of 5 days of job-protected, unpaid bereavement leave.

For steps on how to ask and get time off work, consult the CRD’s comprehensive guidelines.

11. My bereavement leave rights seem to have been infringed upon. How can I proceed?

Send CRD a complaint. You can make a complaint to CRD (refer to “To File a Complaint,” below) if you were refused bereavement leave or if you have experienced harassment, retaliation, or discrimination in the workplace for seeking or availing bereavement leave.

The CRD’s small company family leave mediation scheme governs the bereavement leave entitlement. Under this initiative, CRD’s Dispute Settlement Division will mediate some conflicts, such as those involving bereavement leave, between small businesses (those with five to nineteen workers) and their present or former workers. Check out the CRD information sheet on the small company family leave mediation scheme for additional details.

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