Bereavement Pay

Alice Wisler
Finding out about your bereavement pay will benefit you

When a loved one dies, most workplaces give time off with bereavement pay. There is no statutory right for you to be paid during this time off and it will depend on your company's policies.

Defining Bereavement Pay

Bereavement pay is defined as the payment an employee gets when he or she takes a time off after a loved one dies. Those entitled to this pay are usually immediate family members of the person who has died. This period, known as bereavement leave, is provided so that the deceased's family member can help plan and attend the funeral and have some time to deal with the death. While each place of employment is different, the usual allotted time for this leave of absence from work is three to five working days.

Know Your Company's Policies

At this time, there are no federal laws that guarantee paid or unpaid bereavement leave. Oregon is the only state that has passed a law requiring employers to provide their employees bereavement leave. The other 49 states do not require employers to provide paid or unpaid bereavement leave.

If employers do not offer paid time off in these circumstances, employees are at least entitled to a reasonable period of unpaid time off for the death of an immediate family member.

Typically, an employer allows three days of paid bereavement leave to a full-time employee. There are some employers that do offer five days. Always check with your human resources department or your employee handbook so you know what benefits you are entitled to.

Employment Handbook

The guidelines for bereavement leave is usually outlined in the employees' handbook under a section called Employee Benefits. This section explains what the company grants for those taking time off when a family member passes away. It also defines who is defined as a family member.

Example of What Is Offered

Here is an example of what might be offered for bereavement leave from a standard employee handbook:

  • Regular full-time and part-time employees are granted up to a maximum of three days paid leave in the event of a death in their immediate family. Immediate family members are a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, mother-in-law, father-in-law, or another member which lives in the house of the employee.

Find Out More

You might need more than three to five days if you are involved in planning the funeral, or have other responsibilities revolving around the death. If you are able to discuss your situation with your employer, supervisor, or human resources personnel, this will ease your mind. In a large corporation, sometimes it is hard to bend the hard and fast rules, however, a smaller company may provide a more personal touch as you grapple with your needs at this sorrowful time of death. Be sure to learn all you can about bereavement pay and leave. It never hurts to ask and may save you worry and regret.

Taking Care of You

When a loved one dies, society often wants to believe that it only takes three to five days to deal with the loss. Do not fall into this myth. Depending on the relationship you had with the deceased, you may need many months and years to come to terms with the death. While you can return to your duties at work, chances are that you will not feel as lighthearted as you did before the death. The first set of holidays is always hard to handle as you experience a festive time without your loved one. No one fully understands your pain because no one else held the same relationship with the deceased as you once did. However, there are others who have lost a loved one and might be in a similar situation. Be sure to get the support you need. There are many resources for you online and hopefully, you can receive help within your local community and place of worship.

Bereavement Pay