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Bereavement Leave

Written by

Tiffany Clark

Reviewed by

VidCruiter Editorial Team

Last Modified

Jun 27, 2024
Bereavement Leave
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Bereavement leave allows employees to request time off from the job following the death of a loved one or family member. An effective bereavement policy ensures an organization’s operations continue seamlessly while also considering the needs of its employees and their grieving process. 


In some countries, employees have the right to take time off for bereavement. For example, the U.K. provides a “reasonable” amount of unpaid leave after the death of a dependant who is not their child. However, the U.K.’s parental bereavement leave policy mandates at least two weeks of paid leave for eligible parents. 


The U.S. has no federal mandates regarding bereavement leave. However, some states have implemented regulations to protect employees who need time off following the passing of a loved one. States requiring bereavement leave for employees are California, Illinois, Maryland, Washington State, and Oregon. Other states currently have active legislation concerning bereavement leave, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Vermont. 


Some companies allow employees to use bereavement leave as needed, while other organizations may specify that employees use the leave within a specific timeframe following the loss of a loved one or family member. Depending on the laws in individual states or countries, employees may use bereavement leave for:


  • Making funeral arrangements

  • Attending to legal or family responsibilities 

  • Grieving


Bereavement Leave Example


An employee working at a marketing firm recently lost her father. The company’s bereavement policy allows employees to take off up to five days with pay for the death of an immediate family member. The employee informs her manager about her father’s passing and submits a formal request for bereavement leave. 


The manager uses the bereavement policy to approve the employee’s request and implement the organization’s contingency plan for her absence. When the employee returns to the workplace after five days, the bereavement policy may allow for temporary flexible work arrangements. This can include telecommuting, returning to the worksite in phases, or working an adjusted workload.

Related Terms

Bereavement Policy

is a term referring to an organization’s official policy outlining what an employee can expect in the event of a death in their family. A bereavement policy should clarify the differences between sick leave, vacation time, and bereavement leave.

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

is a U.S. federal labor law stipulating that employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for health or family reasons.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

provides an organization’s employees with a set number of days off with pay. These days can be used for any purpose, including bereavement.

Compassionate Leave

is a term sometimes used interchangeably with bereavement leave, but the specific definitions of the two terms may differ between organizations and countries. Compassionate leave generally encompasses a vast range of scenarios, including attending to family emergencies or caring for a loved one during an illness.

Return-to-Work Planning

involves creating a strategy for assisting employees with the transition back into their regular work after they take bereavement leave. This can include phased returns or adjusted workloads. 


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