Is Bereavement Leave Protected in California?

Protected Leave February 14th, 2024
bereavement leave- person sitting in chair grieving bereavement leave- person sitting in chair grieving

The loss of a loved one and grief may be a life-changing event that can affect your ability to do your job. For years, workers were at the mercy of their employers when it came to bereavement leave. Under a newly passed law, many employers in California must now grant time off for employees who have lost a family member.

California Law Protects Bereavement Leave

Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1949 into law on September 29, 2022, adding to the existing California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Taking effect on January 1, 2023, the new California law ensures that most workers can take time off to mourn the loss of a loved one.

The Law Applies To Most Employers

California law requires all public employers and employers with five or more workers to provide up to five days of bereavement to employees whose family member has died. Bereavement leave is also available to those who work for the State of California or local governments within the state.

Certain Restrictions Do Apply

The worker must have been employed by the company for at least 30 days before being eligible for bereavement leave, for example. Bereavement leave applies only to the death of specific family members. 

The California Family Rights Act defines a family member as a:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
  • Grandparent
  • Sibling
  • Grandchild
  • Domestic partner

However, your employer may extend bereavement leave to include the death of another person with whom you have a relationship or are grieving.

Company Policies May Still Apply

Employees must follow any bereavement policies that their employers have in place. For example, if your employer’s existing policy states that you need to tell human resources that you need to take bereavement leave, you must continue to do so. However, if your employer’s policy does not provide bereavement leave or provides fewer than 5 days, you are entitled to the bereavement leave as outlined by California law.

Protected Leave May Be Taken At Any Time Within 3 Months

Death affects individual workers in different ways. Some people need time off immediately after the passing to recover emotionally or to attend the funeral. Others may need time off later to manage their loved one’s estate or to move their belongings. California law reflects these different needs by giving workers three months in which they can take bereavement leave, and the time off does not have to be all at once. You can take 2 days off immediately after the passing of your loved one, for example, and take the next 3 days sporadically over the next three months.

California Protects Workers From Retaliation For Taking Bereavement Leave

Your employer cannot take action against you for taking bereavement leave. Prohibited forms of retaliation include:

  • Termination
  • Suspension
  • Demotion
  • Take other adverse actions

Other Things You Should Know About Bereavement Leave In California

  • You are entitled to 5 days of bereavement days upon the death of a loved one
  • Your employer is not required to give you paid leave
  • You must provide documentation of death, such as a death certificate if your employer requests it

Need Help Securing Protected Leave? Contact D.Law

If you have lost a loved one and your job won’t give you time off to mourn or settle affairs, consult with D.Law by calling (818) 275-5799. Our employment attorneys help workers in the Bay Area, San Diego, Fresno, Los Angeles, and other California cities get the leave they need.

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