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Definition of Bereavement leave:

Bereavement leave or compassionate leave is a paid time-off category that employees can use following the death of a close friend or family member. 

Although there are no laws on compulsorily providing bereavement leave, most companies provide paid leave on compassionate grounds, keeping in mind the distress of the employee. This gives them the time to grieve, take part in religious rituals, or take care of the formalities if any. 


Do you need a Bereavement leave policy? 

Although it is not compulsory to have a bereavement leave policy, this is the time to show that you care for your employees’ wellbeing. Given the compassionate nature of the leave, companies do not include this as a part of the company benefits. 

You let them know that the company is standing by their side during the hard time. It lets your employees know what needs to be done; how to apply for the leave, how long the leave would last, and what to do if they need more time and so on. 


Is it compulsory to provide paid time-off for bereavement?

There's no rule that makes it compulsory to provide paid time-off for bereavement. However, most companies have bereavement leave as a separate leave category and treat it the same as sick time off or vacation time off, thereby making it a paid leave. If the employee exhausts the allotted days, they can consult their managers for leave extension, use sick-time off or go for unpaid time-off.


What should you include in the bereavement leave policy?

  • Number of days allowed: Most companies provide 3-5 days. However, if the employee has to travel, or has to attend religious ceremonies, this can get extended. In such cases, employees should let their managers know beforehand, and treat it accordingly. 

  • Eligibility for bereavement leave: Depends on the familial relationship you have with the deceased. Sometimes, companies also provide time-off when a distant relative, a close friend, or a pet passes on. Given the subjective nature of the leave, you can vary for individuals.

  • Should they provide a proof of death?  Most companies do not ask for proof of death in the case of immediate family members. However, if need be, you could ask for the obituary note or funeral program.

  • Procedure for applying for bereavement leave: How soon should your employees inform you? What information should they provide when applying for bereavement? Mention all such details in your bereavement policy. 

  • What should they do if they need more time?  Usually, employees have to speak to their managers and get this sorted. In case employees have to do an additional form fill or apply for a different type of leave, mention that in your policy.