Bereavement Leave: What is a Bereavement Leave and Who is Entitled for it? All We Know

Throughout life, there are few experiences painful than losing a loved one. During these challenging times, the last thing anyone wants to concern themselves with is work. This is where bereavement leave laws and policies come into play, providing essential time to grieve and organize personal affairs.

So, what exactly is bereavement leave, and who is entitled to it? Let’s delve into everything you need to know about it.

What Is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave, also known as funeral leave or compassionate leave, is the legally protected time off work granted to an employee following the death of an immediate family member. This time is typically used to mourn, attend funeral services, address legal matters, or simply take a mental health break to cope with loss.

Types of Bereavement Leave

Bereavement leave comes in two main types: paid and unpaid. The type you receive often depends on company policy, jurisdiction, and your employment status. Some companies provide paid bereavement leave as part of their employee benefits package, while others offer it as unpaid leave or combine it with other types of leave.

Who Is Entitled To Bereavement Leave?

Typically, full-time, part-time, and in some cases, casual employees are eligible for bereavement leave. However, the specifics of who is considered an immediate family member, and the duration allowed for bereavement leave can vary significantly between companies and countries.

Legal Bereavement Leave Policies Around the World

In the US, there is no federal requirement for employers to provide paid bereavement leave, although many companies choose to do so as an employee benefit. Contrastingly, Canada’s Labour Code provisions offer up to three days of paid bereavement leave. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Bereavement Leave Act of 2020 provides two weeks of paid leave for parents who have lost a child.

How To Take Bereavement Leave

When the unfortunate time comes, you’ll need to notify your employer of your situation and your intent to take bereavement leave. While this may seem like an additional stressor, the process typically involves a straightforward conversation or email, and you’ll most likely need to provide documentation, like a death certificate.

How long is bereavement leave typically granted

Bereavement leave is typically granted for a few days, with variations based on the relationship to the deceased. Commonly, around three days of paid leave are offered for the loss of an immediate family member, such as a spouse, parent, or child. For other family members or loved ones, companies may provide around two days of paid leave.

Employers often allow flexibility for additional time off if needed, which can be requested through a manager and may include unpaid leave or the use of accrued paid time off. The length of bereavement leave can vary depending on company policies and the specific relationship to the deceased, with some organizations offering up to five days of leave for immediate family members.

What is the difference between bereavement leave and sick leave

Bereavement leave and sick leave serve different purposes in the workplace. Bereavement leave is granted to employees who have suffered the loss of a family member, allowing them time to grieve, attend funeral services, and handle related matters without the worry of work obligations. On the other hand, sick leave is typically used for an employee’s own illness or injury, medical appointments, or to care for a family member who is ill.

Sick leave can also be used for bereavement purposes, with employees being able to use up to five days of sick leave for the death of a spouse, domestic partner, parent, step-parent, child, or step-child. The key distinction lies in the circumstances that trigger each type of leave: bereavement leave is specifically for dealing with the loss of a loved one, while sick leave is primarily for health-related issues.

Can bereavement leave be taken for the death of a non-family member

Yes, bereavement leave can sometimes be taken for the death of a non-family member, depending on the company’s policy. While many organizations primarily offer bereavement leave for immediate family members like spouses, parents, and children, some companies have more inclusive policies that allow employees to take paid time off to grieve the loss of any loved one, including friends or neighbors.

The eligibility for bereavement leave for non-family members varies among employers, with some offering a set number of days for such situations. It’s essential for employees to check their company’s specific bereavement leave policy to understand if it covers non-family members in times of loss.

what is the process for requesting bereavement leave for a non-family member

The process for requesting bereavement leave for a non-family member may vary depending on the company’s policy. Typically, employees should follow these steps:

  1. Check Company Policy: Review the company’s bereavement leave policy to see if it covers non-family members.
  2. Inform Supervisor: Notify your supervisor about the situation and your need for bereavement leave.
  3. Contact HR: Reach out to the human resources department or the designated person responsible for leave requests.
  4. Submit Request in Writing: Put your request in writing, either through a formal letter or email, detailing the circumstances and the relationship to the deceased.
  5. Provide Details: Include relevant information such as the name of the individual, your relationship, and the expected duration of leave.
  6. Follow Company Procedures: Adhere to any specific procedures outlined by the company for requesting leave.
  7. Seek Clarification: If unsure about the process, seek guidance from HR or your supervisor.

By following these steps and communicating openly with your employer, you can navigate the process of requesting bereavement leave for a non-family member effectively.


In summary, bereavement leave is a vital provision that allows employees to focus on healing and managing personal matters following the loss of a loved one. While policies can vary widely, understanding your rights and the options available to you can provide some peace of mind during challenging times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Bereavement Leave Paid?

Bereavement leave can be either paid or unpaid, depending on company policy and the laws of your country.

How Long is Bereavement Leave?

The duration of bereavement leave can vary–commonly ranging from a few days to a week–based on factors like your company’s policy, your relationship with the deceased, and local laws.

Do I Need To Provide Proof For Bereavement Leave?

Some employers may require proof, such as a death certificate or obituary notice, to approve bereavement leave.

By understanding bereavement leave and who qualifies for it, employees can better navigate this difficult time, truly focusing on what matters most.

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