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Bereavement Leave

What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement Leave is a paid leave policy granted by the employer in the situation where an employee loses his/her family member, relative, spouse, children, sibling, or any other relationship. This leave is facilitated so that the employee can deal with the state of intense grief caused due to the loss of a loved one. In order to apply for bereavement leave, the employee needs to inform his/her employer immediately after the occurrence of death.

This is not a compulsory leave policy, companies provide paid time-off during hard times of their employees to show care for their employees. Generally, bereavement leave is granted for three days although many organizations are flexible in terms of a number of days and employees need to discuss the same with their reporting manager.


Importance of Bereavement Leaves

Employees can use bereavement leave to spend time with family and friends who are grieving. This type of leave is also used to make arrangements for the deceased and attend memorial services. The reasons as to why bereavement leave is required are to: 

1. Grieve the loss 

Different employees grieve differently. When it comes to bereavement leave policies, the number of days granted varies according to the policy. A bereavement leave gives the employee enough personal time to mourn the death of a loved one and grieve their loss with the other family members. 

2. Make time for funeral arrangements 

Some employees may need extra time off to make arrangements for the funeral. Bereavement leave policy is generally flexible enough for the employee to extend his leave. Some policies also grant adequate time required by the employee to fulfill other personal commitments. 

3. Attend the funeral 

Bereavement leave policies give an employee enough amount of time to attend memorial services, fulfilling any commitments to the deceased, and attending the funeral. Additionally, the policy is intended to provide time to cope with the loss as well. Normally, the number of days granted is three days but can be extended up to 5 days or even several weeks. 

4. Recover from the loss 

Apart from coping with the loss of a person, some companies offer time to recover from the traumatic event. Some employees need extra days to spend time with other family members and get their personal life on track before stepping back into their professional lives. 

5. Support employees 

Although bereavement leave is not mandatory in many countries, it is granted as a benefit to the employees to provide them with a supportive environment so that they can balance their professional and personal lives.  


How does bereavement leave work? 

While some companies do offer bereavement leave policy, they set various expectations and eligibility criteria. Other companies offer bereavement leave under sick leave, vacation policy, or Family and Medical Leave. In short, this is how a bereavement leave works: 

  1. Employees need different durations to handle the loss emotionally and fulfill all personal commitments. Bereavement leave is either flexible or is only offered for 5 days. Some companies offer up to 12 weeks.
  2. Organizations may set up eligibility criteria offering leave to only full-time employees or part-time as well.
  3. Some companies may require employees to provide information related to the death of the person, complete necessary paperwork, and provide death certificate if required by the company.
  4. Bereavement leave can either be paid or unpaid. Organizations decide based on the duration of the leave as well. Depending on the policy, it could be a combination of both paid and unpaid leave.
  5. Whether or not bereavement leave is mandatory, employees can discuss with their employers to take time off for healing with the loss.

  6. Bereavement leave policy is constantly updated as per employees’ requirements to avoid any claims of workplace discrimination.
  7. The HR department helps the employees in providing additional support services and assistance programs. 


How to apply for bereavement leave 

Losing a loved one can be devastating and unforeseen. Employees may write a letter stating the situation and the number of days they will need to recover from the loss. To apply for a bereavement leave: 

1. Inform the employer as soon as possible 

After the death of a loved one, an employee won’t be able to fulfill any professional commitments towards their employers. Since bereavement leaves are unexpected, employees must notify the relevant managers to get the paperwork done as soon as possible and give the co-workers a head start on workload distribution. 

2. Use a leave management system 

Some companies require employees to apply for their leave via letter or email. It’s not exactly practical as it gets difficult to manage employees’ time off requests and the workload may not be distributed efficiently. Additionally, there will be many payroll errors and legal compliance issues. Solutions like Keka HR can track all the employee leaves easily along with their shift timings, holidays, and even automates the payroll process. 

3. Discuss the duration of leave 

As different companies offer varying durations for bereavement leaves, employees must discuss with their employers to decide the duration of leave. Some leave policies are flexible or can be extended under special considerations from the employer. Organizations must make sure to update their leave policies to avoid any workplace discrimination. 

4. Complete the necessary paperwork 

Paperwork includes filling out a form for death certificate or submitting proofs of death as per the company’s requirements. Employees may have to submit copies of obituaries or travel. Submit these forms and documents so that the leave is granted without any delays. Most growing companies use a leave management system to digitalize and simplify the paperwork process. One such solution is Keka HR. 

5. Have someone assist with your workload 

Bereavement leaves are unexpected so not every employee will be able to finish their existing duties and responsibilities. While the employee is away on bereavement leave, he can arrange for a co-worker to help with their existing workload for a few days. 



1. Are bereavement leave paid? 

Depending on the company’s leave policy, bereavement leave can be paid or unpaid. Since bereavement leave is not mandatory, it is not yet a part of most companies’ leave policy. Sometimes, they come under sick leave, vacation leave, or Family and Medical Leave (FMLA). 

2. What is the proof for bereavement leave? 

Most companies do not require proof of death but will need to verify the death to make sure the leave isn’t being misused. To verify the death, employer can ask for details like name of the deceased, date of death, and their relationship with the employee. Other companies also verify bereavement leave by asking for obituary, funeral program, etc. 

3. Is it compulsory to provide bereavement leaves? 

It is not compulsory to offer bereavement leave. However, if the country or state has made it mandatory then companies must make bereavement leave as part of their leave policy. 

4. Does bereavement count as a sick day? 

A company may not make bereavement leave as part of its policy, but it can offer compassionate leave or sick leave. Employees can take something similar to bereavement leave as part of other leave policies. It can be counted as a sick day if the company has made bereavement leave under the same policy. 

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