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October 13, 2022

California’s Bereavement Leave Law

On September 29, 2022, Governor Newsom signed AB 1949, which creates protected bereavement leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Effective January 1, 2023, AB 1949 prohibits an employer from refusing to grant an eligible employee the opportunity to take up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a qualifying family member.  The new requirement applies to employers with five or more employees. 

To be eligible for bereavement leave, an employee must have been employed for at least 30 days before taking leave. A qualifying family member includes a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law as defined in CFRA.  The employee can use bereavement leave under AB 1949 for each death of a qualifying member. There appears to be no limit as to the number of times an employee can be eligible for bereavement leave. The leave can be taken intermittently or consecutively at the option of the employee.  

AB 1949 requires that bereavement leave be taken pursuant to an employer’s existing bereavement leave policy. If the employer does not have an existing policy, the five days of leave permitted under the new law may be unpaid. Otherwise, the employee is entitled to use any accrued paid leave during the bereavement leave.  Existing bereavement policies that provide for less than five days of unpaid bereavement leave will have to be revised to provide at least five days of unpaid leave. In any event, the employee may use accrued paid leave otherwise available to the employee for unpaid days.