Bereavement Leave for Family Members 2023

Bereavement leave for family members is a crucial time in the workplace. It is important for employers to understand the rights and needs of their employees during this period.

In this article, we will be discussing bereavement leave policies, best practices, and relevant information for employers.

According to, immediate family members are usually limited to parents, in-laws, children, siblings, spouse, (unmarried) domestic partner, guardian, or grandparent. These are the individuals that are closest to the employee and hold a significant role in their family.

When an employee experiences the loss of a family member, an employer must have a clear policy on bereavement leave for family members. A workplace that shows empathy and compassion for their employees can create a better and stronger work environment.

In the next sections, we will dive deeper into the necessary policies and practices that can help both employers and employees in these tough situations.

Check out this Youtube video about “Bereavement – The Family Stress Test” that offers valuable insights and strategies for coping with the loss of family members.

Definition of Bereavement Leave for Family Members

What is bereavement leave?

Bereavement leave is a type of leave granted to an employee due to the death of a loved one, which enables them to take the time needed to grieve and attend to any necessary arrangements without worrying about work obligations. The types of family members that qualify for bereavement leave may vary depending on the company policy, but typically include the passing of a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, or any other member of their immediate family with whom they share a home.

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Employers may offer paid or unpaid bereavement leave depending on their policies and the employee’s eligibility.

Who qualifies for bereavement leave?

Employees who experience the death or funeral of an immediate family member are eligible for bereavement leave. Immediate family members usually include spouses, children, parents, and siblings.

Depending on the company’s policy, other family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws may also be included. It is best to review the company’s policy to understand the definition of immediate family members.

What documentation is required for bereavement leave?

Generally, employers require supporting documents to verify the employees’ bereavement leave request. According to, employees may be required to present a death certificate, obituary or funeral program, or any other legal documents to prove their relationship to the deceased family member.

Some employers may also require the employee to sign a statement attesting to the accuracy of the submitted documentation. It is important to check with your employer’s human resources department as bereavement leave requirements may vary.

How long can bereavement leave last?

Bereavement leave is typically granted for a period of 3 to 5 days to allow employees to grieve the loss of an immediate family member. Immediate family members include spouses, domestic partners, parents, siblings, and children.

However, depending on the company policy and collective bargaining agreements, bereavement leave may last up to 10 days or more. The duration of bereavement leave may also vary based on the geographic region and state laws.

Some employers offer additional flexible work arrangements and may allow employees to take additional personal time or vacation days to deal with their grief. Employees who need additional time may also request an extension of their bereavement leave, which can be granted on a case-by-case basis.

It is important to discuss bereavement leave policies with your employer and understand your options to obtain the needed time to grieve and heal without fear of losing your job.

Bereavement Leave Policies for Family Members

Bereavement leave policies for family members under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires eligible employers to provide job-protected leave to their employees for certain family and medical reasons. Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a seriously ill family member, or for the employee’s own serious health condition.

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Under the FMLA, eligible employees are also entitled to up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of their covered family member’s active duty or call to active duty in the Armed Forces. Additionally, eligible employees can take up to 26 weeks of job-protected leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

Regarding bereavement leave, the FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for the death of an immediate family member, which includes a spouse, child, or parent. This time can be taken all at once or intermittently and must be taken within a year of the family member’s death.

The FMLA does not require employers to provide paid bereavement leave, but some employers may choose to do so as a benefit for their employees.

Bereavement leave policies for family members under state or company policies

Bereavement leave policies vary by state or company, but the standard practice is to provide employees with three to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of an immediate family member. Immediate family members are typically defined as the employee’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, or grandchildren.

However, for other loved ones like relatives and friends, the given bereavement leave duration is usually limited to a solitary day. It is important for employees to review their company’s policies and state regulations to determine what benefits they are eligible for during these difficult times.

Best practices for employers when implementing a bereavement leave policy

Employers need to establish clear policies and guidelines when implementing a bereavement leave policy. The communication with employees should be open and effective, allowing them to understand the terms and conditions of the policy.

According to, employers should offer three to five days of paid bereavement leave for immediate family members and one day for the death of other relatives or friends. However, these are only standard practices, and employers can choose to offer more paid leave depending on the situation.

Employers should also consider providing counseling services or bereavement support groups for their employees. This can ease the impact of the loss and help employees cope with the grief.

It is also essential to treat all employees equally and apply the policy consistently. Employers should avoid showing favoritism, and all employees must follow the same bereavement leave policy.

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In conclusion, establishing clear policies and guidelines and communicating them effectively, providing additional support, and treating all employees equally are some of the best practices for employers when implementing a bereavement leave policy.

Supporting Employees During Bereavement Leave

Communication and workplace flexibility

During bereavement leave, communication and workplace flexibility are crucial in supporting the emotional needs of bereaved family members. Regular check-ins with team members and incorporating the conversation into standard one-on-one meetings can ensure everyone stays connected and informed.

Additionally, providing options for reduced hours, remote work, or time off can alleviate stress and allow for necessary grieving time. If workloads are unevenly distributed, redistributing the workload or pitching in where needed can help lighten the burden for grieving employees.

Prioritizing open communication and workplace flexibility is essential in showing support and empathy towards bereaved family members.

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) and counseling services

During bereavement leave, it is important for employees to have access to emotional support and counseling services. Companies can provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that offer confidential counseling services, grief support, and resources to help employees cope with their loss.

These programs can include individual counseling sessions, support groups, and referrals to community resources. Additionally, companies can also offer flexible options such as working from home or taking time off to help employees manage their responsibilities during this difficult time.

It is also important for employers to regularly check in on their employees and offer support in order to ensure productivity.

Memorializing and honoring the deceased employee or family member

Employers can offer support to the bereaved family members of an employee by attending the funeral or holding a memorial at the workplace. It is also important to establish a consistent check-in schedule or integrate discussions about the loss into regular meetings to maintain open communication and support the team’s well-being.

Employers can also consider offering flexible work arrangements such as the option to work from home or reduce hours, and allowing time off as needed. Prioritizing the redistribution of tasks or taking on some duties yourself to ease the workload and pressure on your staff might also be helpful.

The aim is to make sure your team feels supported during this time of bereavement.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are aunts and uncles considered immediate family for bereavement?

Yes, aunts and uncles are considered immediate family for bereavement.

Does bereavement leave cover aunts and uncles?

Yes, the death of an extended family member, like aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins, can also qualify for bereavement leave.

How many days do you get for a family bereavement?

In most cases, employees receive a minimum of three days of bereavement leave for the death of an immediate family member. Such leave often includes: Parents and Siblings.

Can you take bereavement for a dying family member?

Most employee bereavement leave policies stipulate that the person who passes away has to be a close family member, like a parent, sibling, child, or spouse. However, in most cases, bereavement can be used to attend to the death of any loved one.
Lora Turner

Lora Turner is an Experienced HR professional worked with the large organizations and holding 15 years of experience dealing with employee benefits. She holds expertise in simplifying the leave for the employee benefits. Contact us at: [email protected]