Bereavement Leave by State — Guide for 2024

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are not obliged to pay for the time when an employee doesn’t work — including vacations, personal leave, sick leave, and others. The same applies to bereavement or funeral leave, too.

However, some states have more favorable regulations regarding such leave (and other leaves of absence, for that matter). Therefore, even when the FLSA orders differently, if a state law has different regulations regarding labor law — the more favorable law to the employee prevails. 

In this text, we will:

  • Define bereavement leave,
  • Guide you on how to ask for bereavement leave,
  • Answer some FAQs regarding bereavement leave, and 
  • Go over bereavement leave in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C.

Let’s start.

*Note: The information regarding bereavement leave in the US has been checked and updated for 2024.

Bereavement leave - cover

What is bereavement leave?

Bereavement leave is time off that an employee takes amid the death of a close family member or friend. Such leave allows an employee to arrange and attend a funeral and deal with other matters after a loved one passes away. Bereavement leave is also often referred to as funeral leave or bereaved leave.

How does bereavement leave work?

An employee who’s lost an immediate family member may get a certain amount of time to stay at home and grieve. An immediate family member is usually:

  • A spouse,
  • A child, foster child, or step-child,
  • A grandchild,
  • A sibling, or
  • A parent or grandparent.

Immediate family members may also include a former spouse, or relatives such as cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Some companies even grant bereavement leave following the loss of a friend or a pet.   

Whether such leave will be granted or not (paid or unpaid) mainly depends on the agreement between an employer and the employee — but also the state in which an employee lives and works. 

How long is bereavement leave?

As said earlier, federal law doesn’t regulate bereavement leave, so the length of such leave is usually up to the employer or based on the company’s policies.

In general, many companies offer at least 3 paid days of bereavement leave amid the death of a close family member. As for extended relatives, grieving employees are granted at least 1 day off.

However, certain states stipulate other conditions regarding funeral leave that we will discuss later on in this text.

Is bereavement leave paid?

Similarly to the length of the bereaved leave, the question of offering paid bereavement leave is up to the employer. Companies may offer their employees both paid or unpaid leave of absence following the death of a loved one. 

Even though it is not required by law, offering bereavement leave shows support and gives employees time to grieve the loss of a loved one.

What is a typical bereavement leave policy?

When a company offers their employees bereavement leave, it is in the best interest of a business to craft a comprehensive bereavement policy (following federal and state laws when creating them).

A standard bereavement policy should include the following:

  1. Eligibility — business owners should clearly state who qualifies for bereavement leave, whether eligible employees include only full-time employees or both full-time and part-time employees. Furthermore, eligibility may also refer to only state employees (depending on specific state laws) or both state and private employees.  
  2. Duration — a bereavement leave policy must also state how much time off employees are entitled to receive in such circumstances. Again, this mainly depends on the employer, but they must be compliant with the state law regulations concerning bereaved leave (if there are any).  
  3. Compensation — business owners may also decide whether they want to grant their employees leave of absence with or without pay. Again, if there are any state laws demanding the compensation of bereavement leave, employers must stick to them accordingly. 
  4. Guidelines — also, business owners should clearly specify the guidelines for either the death of an immediate family member, extended relative, friend, or even a pet.
  5. Documentation — the policy must also include what documentation is required for an employee to be able to request bereavement leave. Such documentation may include a copy of an obituary or death certificate, travel documents, etc.

How do I ask my boss for bereavement leave? 

Depending on the company’s policy or state regulations concerning bereaved leave, you must make sure you promptly inform your employer about taking time off

To be able to do that, try to follow these steps when requesting bereavement leave.

Step #1: Inform your employer 

First and foremost, make sure you notify your employer about the leave of absence you need to take without further delay. Depending on your company’s policy or state law, you may be required to send a prior notice via email or by contacting the HR department. Also, some companies may require you to fill out either an electronic or a paper form.

The important thing is to tell your employer about the leave you will need to take as soon as possible and provide other relevant information about your leave, such as travel plans, dates of your absence, and similar.

🎓 Clockify Pro Tip

Notifying your employer about your absence is of the utmost importance. As far as employers are concerned, no call no show cases can be quite stressful but here’s an informative text on how to handle them:

Step #2: Provide necessary documentation

Be prepared that your employer or HR department will ask you to provide evidence of your loved one’s passing before you take time off.

Along with the request for leave, your company may require you to provide a copy of an obituary or some other proof that your loved one’s passed away.

Step #3: Be aware of your company’s policy

You must be aware of the fact that your leave of absence directly depends on your company’s bereavement leave policy. If you’re not quite sure where to read the said policy, check your employee handbook to have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities when requesting time off. 

As for bereavement absence, your company policy determines: 

  • How much time off you will get, 
  • Whether you will get a paid or unpaid leave, or 
  • Whether funeral leave is separate from other types of leave (some companies may offer vacation days instead of a separate bereaved leave of absence).

Still, some companies don’t have official bereavement leave terms, so make sure you communicate your needs with your employer, manager, or HR department to understand your rights in such situations.

Step #4: Keep your colleagues in the loop

It is an unfortunate situation to lose somebody you love, but still, you must keep your work ethic and make sure your teammates are notified about your absence. Therefore, tell your colleagues about the time you will be absent and let them know about your current tasks and responsibilities. Also, leave them your contact details so that they can contact you if something urgent that needs immediate attention comes up.

🎓 Clockify Pro Tip

Learn everything you need to know about employee absenteeism here: 

State Bereavement Leave Laws and Legislation 2024

The following table will guide you into more detail about the 5 states providing bereavement leave in 2024. 

StateEligible employers and employeesNumber of days offered Qualifying reason
for taking bereavement leave
Paid or unpaid bereavement leaveNeeded documentation
CaliforniaAll employers with 5 or more employees. All employees who are employed for at least 30 days before the beginning of the bereaved leave (doesn’t apply to employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement).Up to 5 days of bereavement leave.Upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.This leave does not have to be paid.A death certificate, a published obituary, or written verification of death, burial, or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution, or a governmental agency.
Illinois All employers with 50 or more employees covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. All employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours of service in the last 12-month period.A maximum of 10 workdaysUpon the death of a  “covered family member” such as a child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, grandchild, or stepparent.Unpaid leave of absence.A death certificate or published obituary as a proof.
MarylandAll employers with 15 or more employees. Accrued and earned amount of leave.An employee who’s lost their child, spouse, or parent.Accrued paid leave (from sick leave, vacation time, and compensatory time).N/A
Oregon All employers with 25 or more employees. All employees who have worked for 180 calendar days (and an average of 25 hours/week) before the beginning of the bereaved leave. Up to 2 weeks of bereaved leave.Amid the death of a family member including a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, parent’s spouse, sibling, stepsibling, grandparent, grandparent’s spouse, grandchild, grandchild’s spouse, or any other individual related by blood.Unpaid leave of absence.N/A
WashingtonAll employers and employees.Up to 3 days. In addition, eligible employees may use family leave of up to 7 days in case of the death of their child.Amid the death of a family member or household member.Paid bereavement leave. In addition, employees may ask for additional paid leave from accrued vacation, holiday, sick leave, compensatory time, or personal holiday.N/A

FAQs about bereavement leave 

If you haven’t found the answers you’re looking for regarding taking a funeral leave, here are some additional questions that may help you. 

How long should you take off work after a bereavement?

As stated before, the length of time you will take off depends on your company’s policy concerning funeral leave (or the state you live in). Still, if you feel the time you’ll be given to grieve is not enough, you may prolong your leave of absence and use your PTO days instead.  

🎓 Clockify Pro Tip

If you want to learn more about PTO, accruals, benefits, and more, head to the link below:

What’s the difference between bereavement leave and compassionate leave?

Sometimes, these two terms are used interchangeably — but they don’t mean the same thing. Namely, bereavement leave is time off taken amid the death of a loved one, while compassionate leave is time off granted to an employee to tend to a sick dependant or relative due to different reasons.

Examples of circumstances when someone may take compassionate leave may include:

  • When a family member is seriously ill or injured,
  • To attend an urgent family matter,
  • To care for a family member after an emergency such as crime, fire, flood, etc.

Does the federal law require employers to provide bereavement leave?

No, as mentioned earlier, federal law does not oblige an employer to provide their employees with bereavement leave. Whether an employee will be granted bereavement leave depends on the employer-employee agreement, the company’s policy, or the state where such employee lives and works.

What states require employers to provide bereavement leave? 

Even though Americans don’t have the right to take time off to grieve under federal law, there are states that require employers to offer such leave to their employees. In that case, the law that offers more benefits to the worker will supersede.

Currently, only 5 states oblige employers to provide bereaved leave to their employees, including:

  • California,
  • Illinois,
  • Maryland,
  • Oregon, and
  • Washington. 

What states do not require employers to provide bereavement leave?

On the other side, states that don’t require employers to provide bereavement leave are:

  • Alabama, 
  • Alaska,
  • Arizona,
  • Arkansas,
  • Colorado,
  • Connecticut,
  • Delaware,
  • Florida,
  • Georgia,
  • Hawaii,
  • Idaho,
  • Indiana,
  • Iowa,
  • Kansas,
  • Kentucky,
  • Louisiana,
  • Maine,
  • Massachusetts, 
  • Michigan,
  • Minnesota,
  • Mississippi,
  • Missouri,
  • Montana,
  • Nebraska,
  • Nevada,
  • New Hampshire,
  • New Jersey,
  • New Mexico,
  • New York,
  • North Carolina,
  • North Dakota,
  • Ohio,
  • Oklahoma,
  • Pennsylvania,
  • Rhode Island,
  • South Carolina,
  • South Dakota,
  • Tennessee,
  • Texas,
  • Utah,
  • Vermont, 
  • Virginia,
  • West Virginia,
  • Wisconsin, and
  • Wyoming. 

Can an employer provide bereaved leave, even if not mandated by state?

Yes. Even though there’s no federal law that mandates bereavement leave, that doesn’t mean an employer can’t offer their employees time off to grieve. Providing bereavement leave may increase employee morale and productivity in the workplace.

As a matter of fact, as many as 90% of US employers offer paid bereavement leave to their employees, as the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans states.

What are the benefits of employers providing bereaved leave?

Providing your employees with bereaved leave (paid or unpaid) leaves time for the grieved employee to heal after the loss of a loved one, hence encouraging a healthy work-life balance among workers. Moreover, it promotes a productive workplace and shows that you empathize with your employees during their loss. 

🎓 Clockify Pro Tip

If you are wondering about the ways to boost employee productivity in the workplace, head to the following link for more useful advice:

What if my employer doesn’t provide bereavement leave? What are my options?

If your company doesn’t offer bereavement leave, you can either use your vacation time or perhaps take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Namely, under this act, eligible employees have the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for “specified family and medical reasons” of up to 12 workweeks (in a 12-month period). Still, make sure you qualify for such leave under the FMLA by reading the conditions and regulations thoroughly.

🎓 Clockify Pro Tip

Desperate to ask for time off but don’t know how? Read the following tips for some valuable advice on the topic:

What if I’m self-employed and bereaved?

As a self-employed individual, you bear the costs of your time off taken due to bereavement purposes. Only company employees can be offered paid (or unpaid) bereaved leave of absence.

US bereavement leave — conclusion and disclaimer

We hope our comprehensive guide helped you get familiar with all of the relevant information regarding bereavement leave laws in the United States.

To obtain more information on bereavement leave laws for the state that require employers to offer their employees bereaved leave, follow the official links we:

  • Provided as sources down below, and
  • Used as sources in the State Labor Laws guides linked in this guide.

Please bear in mind — this bereavement leave laws guide was written in Q1 of 2024. Thus, it may not include changes introduced after it was published. 

We strongly advise you to consult the appropriate institutions and/or certified representatives before acting on any legal matters.

Clockify is not responsible for any losses or risks incurred should this guide be used without legal guidance.

While nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, it’s still important to remain professional in the workplace. Leave everything to Clockify, as Clockify is a reliable time tracking tool that will keep thorough track of your work hours. Whether you prefer a real-time tracker, timesheets, or a clock-in and clock-out system, Clockify makes sure time tracking aligns with your needs and preferences. 

Sign up for Clockify for free today.

Sources for the table:

California Bereavement Leave Law 

Illinois Bereavement Leave Law

Maryland Bereavement Leave Law 

Oregon Bereavement Leave Law

Washington Bereavement Leave Law

Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave

Free time tracker

Time tracking software used by millions. Clockify is a time tracker and timesheet app that lets you track work hours across projects.


Learn more Arrow Right Primary
Clockify time tracker
Watch demo (12:35)
Closing video