Am I Guaranteed Bereavement Leave?

When a person loses a loved one, especially if the circumstances of the death are sudden or traumatic, in addition to trying to come to terms with the loss, the grieving individual may have arrangements to handle and estate-related decisions to make. In fact, in the days immediately following a loved one’s death, it is usually the closest relatives of the deceased whose lives are most disrupted, both by the grief process as well as the deluge of personal, family, and financial matters needing their attention.

For this reason, many companies allow employees to take bereavement leave to tend to the funeral arrangements and other concerns in the wake of such a loss. However, some employers allow only one day off for an employee to attend a funeral, whereas others have no bereavement leave policy at all.

What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave is time off granted by your employer to attend a funeral or tend to other needs after the death of a loved one. Bereavement leaves may be paid or unpaid. Some employers limit bereavement leave to employees who have lost someone in their immediate family, whereas other employers have a more generous loss-related time-off policy.

Often the number of days off granted corresponds with the relationship the employee had with the deceased. The loss of someone in your immediate family may call for several days off according to the leave policy, while a more distant relative or a close friend may only warrant a single day to attend memorial services.

What are the Laws Governing Bereavement Leave?

There are no federal laws that compel employers to offer bereavement leave, paid or unpaid. Oregon is the only state that has passed such laws, although unpaid leave is permissible; none of the other states or the District of Columbia have any laws requiring employers to provide bereavement leave to employees.

Employers may be held to a policy explicitly contained in their employee handbook or some other official policy, if one exists. If there is a bereavement leave policy established, it can be enforced by law. Contracts or collective bargaining agreements that establish a bereavement leave are usually legally binding.

What Should I Know about My Company’s Bereavement Leave Policy?

If your employer offers bereavement leave for employees, you should determine if you qualify. Your relationship with the deceased is likely to be a factor in whether bereavement leave is available to you. This may also determine how many days of leave are offered.

The loss of immediate family members, which generally includes a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, is likely to allow the greatest amount of time off. Your company’s employee handbook or a representative in human resources should be able to explain which family members are considered immediate family.

You should also determine whether those days will be paid or unpaid. If you need more time than you are allowed under the bereavement leave policy, you should find out if you are allowed to use paid time off, such as a personal day or a sick day.

Part-time workers may receive a prorated adjustment for their bereavement time off.

Our Employment Lawyers in Mount Laurel Help Workers Understand Their Rights

Many workers believe that their employer may not be up front about what employee benefits they are due. If you are getting the run-around, or you have been flat-out denied a benefit the law affords you, the Mount Laurel employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, are here to support you in your pursuit of your rights. Call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.