Bereavement Leave

HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Bereavement Leave

What is a Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave is time off taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, most commonly a close relative or a loved one. During this time, the employee typically attends to matters regarding family, funeral services, and other end-of-life concerns. 

Depending on the company or organization, this is either offered as an unpaid benefit or as a paid benefit.

Why Should an Employer Offer Bereavement Leave?

This paid time off is given so that the employee can grieve the loss of a loved one, attend a funeral, and/or take care of other post-death arrangements. While some companies do not offer paid bereavement leave, others—like employers that use an unlimited PTO policy—do pay workers during bereavement periods. 

Paid or unpaid, offering bereavement leave is a quality-of-life benefit that can help employers attract and retain employees.

Are Employers Legally Required to Offer Workers Bereavement Leave?

No, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA), employers are not required to pay employees for time not worked, including bereavement leave for attending a funeral or attending to post-death arrangements.

Regardless, as is previously mentioned, offering this as an option for grieving workers and their families can dramatically improve or sustain an employee’s feelings towards their company.

What’s the Difference Between the FSLA and the FMLA?

As opposed to bereavement leave for the death of a family member, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave. This law applies to all public agencies, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. 

Reasons for FMLA include:

  • Birth and care of newborn child
  • Child adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member (ex: spouse, child, parent) with a serious health condition
  • If an employee has a serious health condition and is unable to work

Related Terms: Employee Benefits

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