Bereavement Leave Now Protected in California
On September 29, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1949, which amends the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to require covered employers to provide eligible employees with 5 days of bereavement leave.
AB 1949 applies to employers with 5 or more employees nationwide. Under the bill, employees who have been employed at least 30 days before the leave may take 5 days of bereavement leave for the death of a family member. A family member is defined as including:
A domestic partner
Bereavement leave is unpaid generally unless the employer has an existing policy that provides for paid leave or if the employee has accrued leave, including vacation time or sick leave that they elect to use.
Employers are permitted to request documentation of the death of the family member, which can include 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.
Under the new legislation, employers are required to maintain the confidentiality of any employees requesting bereavement leave.
While AB 1949 amends the CFRA, the leave is separate from other leave offered to employees for their serious illness or to care for another with a serious illness.
This bill does not apply to an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement if the agreement expressly provides: (1) for bereavement leave equivalent to that required by the bill; (2) for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of the employees; and (3) for premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, where applicable, and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent above the state minimum wage.
AB 1949 takes effect on January 1, 2023.