How to Create a Bereavement Leave Policy
How to Create a Bereavement Leave Policy

How to Create a Bereavement Leave Policy

Bereavement Leave Goes a Long Way with Employees

When an employee’s family member or friend dies, it’s common for them to want to pay their respects. And if the deceased person was an immediate family member, such as a parent or spouse, they will have extra things to take care of. That’s why it’s important to have a bereavement leave policy in place. This type of leave is given to employees so they can:

  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Pay their respects to the deceased person’s family at a wake or visitation
  • Attend the funeral and burial
  • Handle the deceased person’s belongings and will
  • Any other matters that they need to deal with after a death

Are Employers Required to Offer Bereavement Leave?

The U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides no federal law that requires employers to offer bereavement leave following the death of a family member or friend, which leaves creating the guidelines in the hands of the employer. Some states do mandate that employers provide bereavement leave. Oregon, for example, was the first state to require companies to offer extended bereavement leave in 2014. They now include two weeks of bereavement leave in their state family and medical leave statutes. If your company doesn’t already have a policy in place, keep reading to find out what goes into implementing an effective one.

How Much Leave Time Should We Provide?

Most businesses offer company paid bereavement leave of three to five days after the death of an immediate family member. In the case of other relatives and friends, the typical paid bereavement leave is just one day off.

The reduction in paid time off is because less personal time should be needed for distant relatives or friends beyond attending the funeral or memorial service.

When Should You Offer More Time Off?

Sometimes an employee is required to put in more time and effort after a death, especially if they are the executor of the will or the estate is particularly complex. Appointments with attorneys, realtors and estate sale agents can be time-consuming and may take weeks or even months to wrap up. Another complicating factor is if the deceased person lived in another city or state. In this case, extra time off will be required, so most companies also include a section about unpaid leave in their bereavement policies.


Here’s A Free Bereavement Leave Policy Template:

Company Bereavement Policy

It is the company’s intent to support all our employees following the death of a loved one. Following is our policy for bereavement leave. If you have any questions, please consult your manager or the human resources department.

Bereavement Leave for an Immediate Family Member:

When an immediate family member dies, all regular, full-time employees who have worked for the company for at least 90 days may take a maximum of 5 days off with bereavement pay to go to the funeral, make funeral arrangements or tend to legal and other matters associated with the death.

If the funeral occurs on a scheduled workday, leave pay for part-time employees will be prorated.

The company has the right to require verification (such as an obituary or funeral program) for the necessity of bereavement leave.

If the employee does not have adequate paid time off banked, the leave time is unpaid.

Immediate Family Defined for Bereavement Leave:

Immediate family members are defined as an employee’s spouse, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, sister, brother, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

Friend or Other Relative Bereavement Leave:

All regular, full-time employees who have worked for the company for at least 90 days may take 1 day off with pay to attend the funeral or visitation of a non-family member.

If the funeral occurs on a scheduled workday, leave pay for part-time employees will be prorated. Time off will be granted on a case-by-case basis by the employee’s manager. Managers should confirm that time is recorded accurately on time cards.

The company has the right to require verification (such as an obituary or funeral program) for the necessity of bereavement leave.

Additional Bereavement Time Off:

We understand the serious impact the death of an immediate family member can have on our employees. Upon request of the employee’s manager, an additional 4 days of unpaid time off can be granted.

This additional unpaid time off may be approved due to situations such as the deceased being in another state, the employee’s responsibilities for funeral arrangements, or the employee’s responsibilities for managing the estate of the deceased.


FMLA and Bereavement Leave

If the employee still needs additional time following a death, like we said above, FMLA doesn’t cover it. However, if the employee needs to attend grief counseling or therapy to help them cope with the death, that can be covered under FMLA.

If you need help establishing leave policies or other benefit programs, Paycor can help!


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