On September 29, 2022, Governor Newsom signed AB 1949, which amends the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to require employers with 5 or more employees to provide eligible employees with 5 days of bereavement leave. Here’s what California employers need to know about AB 1949:
- To be considered eligible for bereavement leave, an employee must be employed at least 30 days.
- Bereavement leave may be taken for the death of a family member, which is defined as one of the following: a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.
- The leave need not be taken on consecutive days, but must be taken within 30 days.
- Employers are not required to pay employees for the five days of leave, unless the employer has an existing policy which offers paid leave. However, employees must be permitted to use any accrued leave, whether that be PTO, vacation, and/or sick leave.
- Employers are permitted to ask for documentation of the death necessitating the leave. This might 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.
As with other protected leaves, AB 1949 prohibits discrimination, interference or retaliation stemming from an employee’s exercise of bereavement leave.
California employers should take steps now to update their handbooks before January 1st, both to include bereavement leave as a protected leave, but also to update any vacation, PTO or sick leave policies to qualify bereavement leave as an acceptable use for those benefits. We also recommend employers ensure that all supervisors and HR professionals are aware of the new leave obligations. Contact your favorite Weintraub Tobin employment lawyer for help implementing this update, along with all other recommended updates before the new year begins.