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What Is Bereavement Leave?

by Kirk Fox

Bereavement leave is when an employee takes time off from work following the death of someone close to them.

Losing a loved one is difficult. In addition to the emotional toll, there are arrangements to be made, people to be contacted, documents gathered. Bereavement leave gives an employee time to grieve with family and friends and to handle end-of-life details.

There is no federal law in the United States that requires employers to offer bereavement leave. However, most employers allow bereavement leave for the death of a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, stepparent, stepchild, or in-law. A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management states that 88% of companies offer bereavement leave to full-time employees.

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That said, employers offer bereavement leave at their discretion, and the specific policy and time allowed varies by company. Check with your company’s human resources department to find out more about your employer’s bereavement leave policy.

Currently, Oregon is the only state that has enacted a bereavement leave law. Oregon law requires an employer with more than 25 employees in the previous calendar year to give two weeks of leave.

Illinois has a limited bereavement law that required employers with more than 50 employees to offer 10 days of unpaid leave upon the loss of a child.

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