California Creates Bereavement Leave Requirement

AB 1949, signed last fall but effective January 1st, creates protected bereavement leave under the California Government Code. AB 1949 makes it unlawful for a covered employer (5+ employees) to refuse to grant an eligible employee the opportunity to take up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member.

Employees are eligible for bereavement leave once they have been employed for at least 30 days prior to the commencement of leave. A qualifying family member includes a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner or parent-in-law as defined in CFRA.

The employee can use bereavement leave under AB 1949 for each qualifying occurrence, meaning each death of a qualifying member. The five days of bereavement leave do not need to be taken consecutively; however, the employee must complete the bereavement leave within three months of the family member’s date of death.

The employer may require that the employee provide documentation of the death of the family member. Employers must maintain the confidentiality of an employee who requests bereavement leave and all related documentation must be maintained as confidential, disclosed only as required by law.

For employers who currently do not offer bereavement leave or offer less than five (5) days leave, we recommend revising their employee handbooks to reflect this policy.


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