New Law Requires Bereavement Leave in California
New Law Requires Bereavement Leave in California

Effective January 1, 2023, under Assembly Bill 1949, which amends the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), California employers with at least five employees must provide up to five days of bereavement leave to an eligible employee upon the death of a family member.  To be eligible for the leave, the employee must have completed at least 30 days’ service prior to the leave.  “Family member” means a spouse or a child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. 

The leave is unpaid, but the employee may elect to use available vacation, personal leave, sick leave, or compensatory time off.  Further, if the employer’s existing bereavement leave provides payment for any portion of a bereavement leave, that portion of the CFRA bereavement leave must be paid.  Any remaining days of the leave would be unpaid.  The bereavement leave must be completed within three months of the death of the family member.

Employers are required to maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting the bereavement leave.  Employers may request documentation in the form of a death certificate, a published obituary, or a written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or government agency.  Any such request must be made by the employer within 30 days of the first day of the leave. 

Bereavement leave under the CFRA does not impact any other leave offered under the CFRA to employees in connection with their own or a family member’s serious illness.

AB 1949 does not apply to an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement if the agreement expressly provides for bereavement leave equivalent to that required by AB 1949 and for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of the employees, and if the agreement provides premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, as applicable, and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent above the state minimum wage.

The author would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Joanne Warriner.


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