Bereavement Leave Sample Policy

The Manager's Guide to Bereavement Leave, Pay, and a Sample Policy

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A bereavement leave policy is the description of the company’s practices in allowing paid and unpaid employee time off from work when a family member, relative, or friend dies. While an organization will want to make every effort to work with employees on an individual basis during these tough emotional times, you will want to have a basic policy in place so that employees know what they can expect from you in terms of bereavement leave time off and bereavement pay.

As an employer dedicated to treating employees fairly, consistently, and caringly, you will want to have your starting point for bereavement pay and bereavement leave time off documented in your employee handbook. This documentation answers the employee's initial questions and tells him or her what they can expect in bereavement assistance from their employer.

This also reassures the employee that the employer cares about the needs of employees who are experiencing bereavement. This is a relief for employees who want the employer to care during their time of grief.

Why Is Bereavement Leave Time Granted?

Bereavement leave time is granted for making funeral arrangements, attending the funeral and burial, paying respects to the family at a wake or visitation, dealing with the deceased’s possessions and will, and any ancillary matters that employees must address when a loved one dies.

Companies provide paid bereavement time of approximately three days for the death of an immediate family member. Companies typically provide paid bereavement leave time of one day off for other relatives and friends.

Most organizations are willing to provide employees with additional unpaid days, when necessary so that the employee can deal with the affairs of the deceased family member. When an employee is the main person who is responsible for conducting the deceased's business, the employee may need several weeks of unpaid time to wrap up his loved one's affairs.

This becomes even more complex if the relative lived in a distant state or country. If the individual's personal affairs are extensive, and especially in cases where the deceased failed to leave a will, dealing with the deceased's affairs is quite complex and time-consuming. Employees need help from their employer to navigate these unwanted, unchartered waters.

How Can Employers Best Work With Employees Who Experience Bereavement?

Employers need to work with employees on a case by case basis about offering unpaid time off or the utilization of vacation timePTO, or personal days for bereavement events. The employee will appreciate how you treat him or her during their time of bereavement in the future. 

And, your other employees are watching how you treat the bereaved employee. They are forming opinions about you as an employer but also learning about what they can expect when they experience a death in their family.

If you are committed to using your employees as recruiters and brand ambassadors for your organization, this is one of the significant ways that you have an impact on how employees view you as an organization. (Others include the generosity of your benefits package, how employees are respected and treated, the degree of empowerment and autonomous decision making and many more.)

Following is a sample bereavement policy that contains provisions regularly found in company bereavement policies.

Bereavement Policy Sample

Bereavement Leave for an Immediate Family Member:

When a death occurs in an employee's immediate family, all regular full-time employees may take up to three (3) days off with pay to attend the funeral or make funeral arrangements. The pay for time off will be prorated for a part-time employee if the funeral occurs on a scheduled workday. The Company may, in unusual circumstances, require verification of the need for the bereavement leave.

Immediate Family Defined for Bereavement Leave:

Immediate family members are defined as an employee's spouse, parents, stepparents, sisters, brothers, children, stepchildren, grandparents, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or grandchild.

Non-Family Member Funeral Leave:

All regular, full-time employees may take up to one (1) day off with pay to attend the funeral of a close, non-family member. This time off will be considered and granted by the employee's manager on a case-by-case basis.

The pay for time off will be prorated for a part-time employee if the funeral occurs on a scheduled workday. The supervisor should confirm that the time is recorded accurately on the time cards. The Company may require verification of the need for the leave.

Additional Bereavement Time Off:

The Company understands the deep impact that death can have on an individual or a family, therefore additional non-paid time off may be granted. The employee may make arrangements with his or her manager for an additional four unpaid days off in the instance of the death of an immediate family member.

Additional unpaid time off may also be granted depending on circumstances such as distance, the individual's responsibility for the funeral arrangements, and the employee's responsibility for taking care of the estate of the deceased.

Individual employee circumstances may be discussed with the employee's manager and Human Resources to determine whether additional considerations are needed. It is the company's intention to support employees during their times of grief and bereavement.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and ​employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.