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Effective January 1, 2023: California Mandatory Bereavement Leave

California employers with five or more employees, will likely need to update the bereavement policy in their employee handbook for 2023. That’s because a new law pertaining to bereavement leave will take effect on January 1, 2023 (AB 1949). The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) will allow employees to take up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave (sometimes called grievance pay) upon the death of a family member.

For purposes of bereavement leave under AB 1949, family members are limited to your deceased:

  • spouse,

  • child,

  • parent,

  • sibling,

  • grandparent,

  • grandchild,

  • domestic partner, or

  • parent-in-law

According to AB 1949, employers must permit employees to use any available:

  • vacation,

  • sick time, or

  • other paid time off for the purpose of bereavement leave.

Employers may choose to provide more benefits than the law requires. Many of our clients, even those outside of California, already provide bereavement time off with full or partial pay.

A few stipulations with this new leave law include:

  • Bereavement leave must be completed within three months of the death of the family member.

  • Bereavement leave can be used intermittently.

  • There is no limit for how many times an employee can take the leave as long as it is for a qualifying family member.

  • Bereavement leave is only available to employees who have worked for the employer for a specified amount of time.

A few recommendations for our California clients:

  • We encourage you to consistently request appropriate documentation. There is a deadline for employees to provide the requested documentation to employer.

  • Employers should update their employee handbooks now.

  • This is the perfect time to consider making an official policy regarding bereavement leave and to consider if providing full or partial paid time off is a benefit you should provide to your employees.

  • If you don't have an Employee Assistance Plan (EPA) already, this is a great time to look into the benefits they can provide to your employees.

Remember, this is a difficult and emotional experience for your employee and they may be faced with a wide range of emotions. That is way it is imperative to have the right procedure in place for this, along with other types of leave, to ensure a smooth process for employees.

Your Partner in HR,

Ashley Castronova, MHRM, SHRM-CP

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