Starting January 1, 2023, California employers with five (5) or more employees must provide five (5) days of unpaid bereavement leave for death of a qualified family member.
A “family member” is defined as a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.
The new bill, AB 1949, requires that leave be completed within three (3) months of the date of death, and that leave be taken pursuant to any existing bereavement leave policy of the employer.
In the absence of an existing policy, the bereavement leave may be unpaid, but an employee may also use other available paid time off, such as vacation pay, personal leave, sick leave, or compensatory time off during their leave. Employers may choose to provide more benefits than the law requires, including full or partial pay.
The bill makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to engage in specified acts of discrimination, interference, or retaliation relating to an individual’s exercise of rights under the bill. The employer must maintain employee confidentiality relating to bereavement leave. The bill does not apply to an employee who is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for prescribed bereavement leave and other specified working conditions.
“Employee” means a person employed by the employer for at least 30 days prior to the commencement of the leave.
Other helpful details:
The days of bereavement leave need not be consecutive.
The bereavement leave shall be completed within three months of the date of death of the family member.
The bereavement leave shall be taken pursuant to any existing bereavement leave policy of the employer.
If requested by the employer, the employee shall provide documentation of the death of the family member within 30 days of the first day of the leave.
“Documentation” includes, but is not limited to, a death certificate, a published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or governmental agency.
Employers should update their Employee Handbooks to contain the new provisions regarding bereavement leave, and become familiar with the details of the policy in order to carry out the terms correctly and minimize employer liability.
If you’re curious how this may affect your business, The Grady Firm can help. Schedule a call with an attorney at your convenience on our website: www.gradyfirm.com/schedule
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