Leave to Grieve Required in 2023
Beginning January 1, 2023, businesses with five or more employees will be required to provide up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave when an employee suffers a loss of a child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. Eligible employees must have worked 30 days prior to the request to qualify for the leave. The leave can be taken all at once or over time but, if the employee chooses to split up the days off, the leave must conclude within three months of the family member’s death. The new law does not limit the employee to taking only five days of bereavement leave per year, but rather allows for five days of leave per eligible family member’s death. Although the leave is unpaid, employees must be allowed to use any accrued and available vacation, personal leave, sick leave, or other available compensatory time on the books.
The new law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who requests or takes bereavement leave and prohibits discrimination or interference with the right to take bereavement leave. On that note, although the law allows employers to ask for documentation supporting an employee’s request for leave, employers may want to consult counsel before asking for it to avoid discrimination, retaliation or interference with leave claims.
Employers who already provide bereavement leave, including those with collective bargaining agreements, should review their leave policy to ensure it provides for a minimum of five days of leave and that the policy does not contain a requirement that the days off be taken consecutively.
If you have questions or need help preparing or revising your bereavement leave policy, reach out to an SMT employment law attorney.
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Spaulding McCullough & Tansil LLP
Employment Law Group