California Expands Bereavement Leave Benefits
Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1949 into law on September 29, 2022. This bill requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with 5 days of unpaid bereavement leave for the death of an employee’s family member. AB 1949 goes into effect on January 1, 2023 and applies to private employers with five or more employees and to all public employers.
Under this new law, employees who have been employed by a covered employer for 30 or more days before the requested leave are eligible for bereavement leave related to the death of a family member. AB 1949 creates Government Code Section 12945.7, which defines a family member as a:
- domestic partner
The bereavement leave days need not be consecutive but must be completed within 3 months of the date of the family member’s death. In the absence of an employer’s policy to the contrary, bereavement leave is unpaid. However, an employee must be permitted to use accrued and available paid sick leave for the leave if requested.
Employers may request documentation of the family member’s death in the form of 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. The employee must provide the requested documentation within 30 days of the first day of leave. Employers must maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting bereavement leave. This new law also expressly forbids interfering with, taking an adverse employment action against, or discriminating against an employee for exercising the right to bereavement leave. Disputes regarding bereavement leave are subject to the mandatory mediation procedures set forth at Government Code 12945.21 that apply to employees of small employers.
AB 1949 does not apply to employees who are subject to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) if the CBA expressly provides:
- for bereavement leave equivalent to AB 1949;
- for the wages, hours of work and working conditions of the employees; and
- for premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, where applicable, and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent above the state minimum wage ($20.15 in 2023).
CDF’s attorneys are here to help should you have any questions regarding this new bereavement leave law, or its implementation.