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Bereavement Policy Limitations: What Every Employee Needs to Know

Most of the time a bereavement policy will give employees a guaranteed number of days off, however that isn’t a guarantee. Some bereavement policies give employees the ability to apply sick leave as bereavement off-time.
Bereavement Policy Limitations: What Every Employee Needs to Know

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Does your company have a bereavement policy? Put simply, bereavement is paid time off due to the death of a loved one. Most salaried employees have some sort of bereavement leave, but many of those employees have no idea how the policy works in terms of securing the time that’s needed for all of the changes that come with the death of a close family member. 

An HR specialist will be the first to tell you that employees need to look over their bereavement policy carefully when they accept a job. Policies can be complicated and aren’t consistent from one job to the next. You also don’t want to have to work through the details when you’re mourning. 

Bereavement Policy Family Member Limitations 

Anytime someone close to us passes it can be incredibly impactful and throw your world off kilter. But unfortunately, bereavement policies aren’t going to apply to all deaths, and even when it does apply, offtime isn’t equally dispersed. Typically, bereavement is only going to apply to the death of an immediate family member.

The bereavement policy will define who is considered a family member. A family member can be any of the following:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Parents-in-law
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Step parents
  • Step children
  • Foster parents
  • Foster children
  • Guardians
  • Domestic partners

Again, every policy is different. Look over how “family member” is defined and which family members are expressly included in the bereavement policy.

Many bereavement policies also allot time off depending who has died. For example, you may be given one day of paid leave after the death of your brother-in-law, but five days off after the death of a parent. 

Bereavement Policies With Limited Paid Days Off 

Often the number of paid days off for bereavement leave is limited. It’s common for an employee to receive three paid days off, and then the remaining days off are unpaid. So every employee needs to be careful to read the policy in detail to know how much of the total time off includes pay.

No Laws Guaranteeing Bereavement Leave

Some employees would count themselves lucky to get three days of paid leave for bereavement because they are currently given no time off. Bereavement leave is a benefit that an employer isn’t obligated to give. There are no federal or state laws mandating that employees are given time off for bereavement.

The one upside is employees may now be able to get unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Under FMLA guidelines, an employee may be able to take up to 12 weeks off unpaid.

Now that millions of people in the U.S. work as contractors and independent freelancers they have no bereavement benefit to fall back on when a family member dies. The loss of income becomes a major hidden cost of losing a loved one. The only way around it is for a contractor or freelancer to take out an insurance policy to cover the lost income, but that requires paying a monthly premium.

There’s a lot that needs to be done in the short bereavement period when you don’t have to worry about work and can focus on being there for your family. Green Cremation Texas helps families make the most of that time with simplified, all-inclusive services that are easy to understand. Call, text or email any time of day to arrange cremation services.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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