HomeDaily TipsWhat Is Bereavement Leave? A Guide To Grievance Pay Policies

What Is Bereavement Leave? A Guide To Grievance Pay Policies

Bereavement leave is intended to provide employees time away from work to concentrate on these issues and their sorrow. Many, but not all, businesses provide a fixed amount of paid time off after the loss of a loved one.

The death of a loved one has far-reaching effects. There is, of course, sadness involved. However, several aspects demand an employee’s time and attention, such as notice of family members, service arrangements, etc.

Consider creating one if your company does not have a formal bereavement policy. But before you put pen to paper, it’s important to understand what bereavement leave entails and the trends influencing policies and standards.

What Is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave is time off reserved for employees who have lost a loved one, such as a spouse, child, or other family member. Employee bereavement days of leave enable the employee to grieve. It also gives the employee time to plan and attend memorial services, funerals, burial services, and other relevant activities.

Many small and medium-sized firms lack a bereavement policy, but they should have. A systematic policy outlining the advantages to which an employee is entitled ensures that workers and supervisors know what to expect during a tough period. It also guarantees that leave is issued fairly and equitably.

Does The Law Require Bereavement Leave?

Employers aren’t required by law to give bereavement leave to their workers. Depending on the company’s policy, grieving employees may need to use sick or vacation days.

There is also no state legislation; only one state, Oregon, presently has leave rules. The law requires companies to respect all employees’ bereavement and other structured leave plans equitably.

Companies are not normally compelled to give bereavement leave, although this may alter if they employ union workers. Unions may include bereavement money in their contract negotiations.

Employees are also banned from taking bereavement leave. If there is free time, they can do anything they choose with it. Workers and employers should push for this crucial employee benefit even if the time isn’t necessary.

Grief may influence your physical and mental well-being. Even if it temporarily distracts you, suffering through pain may lead to unresolved grief. Examples include anger, obsession, fatigue, sadness, and addictive behavior. 

Is Bereavement Leave Paid Or Unpaid?

Bereavement leave is not paid under federal or state law (but may be under a union contract). Nonetheless, many employers prefer offering workers paid time off while they mourn.

According to a study, the number of employers that provide paid bereavement leave increased by 3 percentage points between 2014 and 2018. Now, 88% of firms provide paid bereavement leave.

The duration of leave authorized may assist businesses in assessing whether or not they can afford to provide workers paid or unpaid leave for the whole period off or a part of it, depending on the connection to the dead.

While many employers want to give their workers the most time off available, often up to five days, paying for all those days off may be difficult. Businesses may opt to provide entirely unpaid bereavement leave or to compensate earnings for a part of the period spent.

For instance, granting five days off for the death of a close family member, with three of those days compensated. The worker might take the whole leave with some unpaid time off or choose to take just the paid days off.

How Long Should Bereavement Leave Last?

Employers must examine all that will likely be needed of their workers if a family member dies when developing bereavement leave policies and timelines.

An employee who has lost a loved one typically needs support with last arrangements, wills, legal and financial documentation, managing the deceased’s belongings, and contacting extended family, friends, and life insurance providers. They may also be important to go to another city, state, or country.

At the same time, they must deal with their sadness and adapt to the loss while assisting other family members.

Employees who have lost direct family members often get three to five paid days off from work beginning the day following the loss, with the option to extend the leave by using vacation days and PTO.

If the employee has lost a close friend or extended family member, paid bereavement leave is normally one day, with the option to extend that term using vacation days and PTO.

Companies are reviewing this perk and modifying their bereavement policies to incorporate extra paid days away and flexible work schedules in the weeks after the death. 

Is Proof Essential To Take Bereavement Leave?

It is up to the particular firm, as with other factors relating to grief, to determine whether they desire documentation of loss from their employee. In most cases, a death certificate works to prove a loss. However, depending on your relationship with the deceased, you may not be able to acquire a death certificate.

Other documents might include a prayer card, a funeral event, or the deceased’s name. When you submit your leave request, human resources should be able to offer a simple answer regarding what paperwork is necessary to show the loss.

Why Should Your Business Provide Bereavement Leave?

Firms and supervisors may help workers heal from their loss by providing bereavement leave.

The firm benefits when “the griever and the staff are more appreciative and loyal” when the organization shows compassion to them during difficult times. Reduced stress, adaptability, and social support will all aid the grieving worker’s readjustment.

Many individuals believe that offering bereavement leave is the correct thing to do, that it is kind and represents the organization’s beliefs and ideals. However, there are certain practical advantages that a corporation might enjoy.

If you support your employee and allow them time to mourn, they are more likely to be motivated to return to their duties when the time is right. On the other hand, an employee who does not get to take leave may struggle to keep up with their tasks and remain productive owing to emotional stress.

From that perspective, it is in the best interests of a firm to give leave if they want their employees to be as mentally healthy as possible and perform in their future roles.

What Does A Typical Bereaved Leave Policy Include?

A bereavement policy may comprise the following divisions:

  • Guidelines: Information regarding attending the funeral, handling financial or personal matters, and healing psychologically and emotionally is typically included in this part.
  • Eligibility: The policy may specify who can use bereavement leave provisions. The company may restrict the policy to full-time staff or family deaths.
  • Procedures: This section of the bereavement leave policy may help you and your coworkers seek a leave and understand the advantages.
  • Duration: Bereavement leave policies can include converting paid to unpaid leave. Understanding corporate policies may help you make better decisions and prepare for emergencies.

Bereavement Policy Advice For Business Owners

Although most states do not require bereavement leave, it is essential for any firm to provide some kind of it. Companies may help their workers by developing a thorough bereavement leave policy.

A complete bereavement leave policy should handle the following:

  • Who is eligible for bereavement leave?
  • What rules apply to direct family members, extended family members, and friends?
  • How many days may an employee take off for bereavement?
  • Is bereavement leave paid or unpaid?
  • What is the procedure for getting bereavement leave?
  • What documents are necessary to seek bereavement leave?
  • How will bereavement leave be tracked in your existing payroll system?

It is critical that your bereavement leave policy is as comprehensive as possible and fits with your available resources. Company owners and managers should consider mixed families when setting boundaries for direct and extended family members.

A flexible bereavement leave policy may also be appropriate. The policy may include the number of days, but the employee can plan the dates with their supervisor. Depending on the circumstances, not everyone will wish to take their whole leave at once.

Include a bereavement policy in your employee guide and keep it up to date. To avoid employment discrimination lawsuits, adopt the policy consistently across your firm.

Tips To Support A Grieving Employee:

Aside from bereavement leave, your team can support workers who are grieving in various ways.

Some tips for assisting bereaved workers include:

  • Allowing the bereaved employee to work from home to attend to personal affairs.
  • Identifying additional team members who can temporarily split the workers’ tasks.
  • Assigning an internal mentor to support the bereaved team member emotionally.
  • Not sending emails or making phone calls concerning business problems during the memorial
  • Sending a meal or flower gift to the employee


Losing a close loved one may make the following days and weeks difficult. So, if this occurs to one of your workers, having a bereavement leave policy in place may offer them the flexibility they need to attend to personal concerns and mourn their loss.

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