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January 17, 2020 Employment Law

What You Need to Know About Death in Family Leave

The death of a family member can be hard to endure. Employers usually offer bereavement leave to employees who have lost a loved one. The death in family leave can be used for making funeral plans, attending the burial, and managing the estate. Giving workers time to recover from the loss can help to promote a better work environment.

a casket being carried by people

Federal Law on Bereavement Leave

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not required to provide bereavement leave to their employees. Additionally, if they do offer leave, they aren’t required to pay the employees for their time off work. The FLSA allows employers to set their own company rules for death in family leave.

The Family Medical Leave Act and Bereavement Leave

Under the FMLA, some employers are required to grant workers a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for certain medical and family reasons. Although FMLA leave isn’t a form of bereavement leave, it may be possible for some employees to utilize it at times of loss. An employee may have the option to use FMLA leave to offer care to a dying family member or for grief counseling.

Average HR Policy for Death in Family Leave

a man who looks distressed with his hand on his foreheadEmployers acknowledge the need for their employees to take some leave from work to mourn the death of a relative. Employment laws do not require companies to offer bereavement leave. Additionally, since bereavement leave is of a sorrowful nature, it is not typically advertised like a generous holiday policy. Bereavement leave is the benevolent response of an employer indicating that the organization understands the employee’s devastation. The employer allows the employee to take time off to manage their personal feelings and other problems during a difficult time.

After the loss of an immediate family member, the affected employee ought to contact their supervisor or HR department and request for leave. The time off from one’s job is for tackling funeral arrangements, and going to the funeral and memorial services. Most companies don’t usually require their employees to provide written proof of death.

Paid Leave

Additionally, most employers offer their grieving employees three days of paid time off. A more generous death in family leave policy may constitute a maximum of five days off. However, the length of paid time off an employee is granted depends on their relationship to the deceased individual. For immediate family members, the paid leave is usually for five days. An immediate family member can be a:

  • spouse3 women taking a picture together
  • child
  • parents
  • parents-in-law
  • sibling
  • stepparent
  • step-kid
  • step-sibling

Most companies offer three days of paid leave for the death of an extended family member. Extended relatives include:

  • grandparents
  • grandkids
  • aunts
  • uncles
  • brothers-in-law
  • sisters-in-law
  • daughters-in-law
  • sons-in-law

Some employees also seek personal unpaid time off when they have extended duties related to the death of a relative. If you have any more questions on death in family leave, please get in touch with Pierce Jewett, PLLC. Our experienced employment attorneys can help answer any questions you may have. Call 757-624-9323 today for an initial consultation.



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