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October 2022: California Passes Bill That Mandates Bereavement Leave

18 Oct


Update Applicable to:
All employers with five or more employees in the state of California.

What happened?
In our previous communication here, we notified you that the California Senate voted to approve Assembly Bill 1949 (AB 1949), and is currently awaiting signature from Governor Newsom. This is an update to that communication.

What are the details?
Effective January 1, 2023, all public and private employers that employ five or more California employees are covered. To be eligible, employees must have been employed by the employer for more than 30 days before the start of the leave. The new law doesn’t apply to employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement if the agreement:

  • Expressly provides for bereavement leave equivalent to that required by AB 1949; and
  • Provides premium wage rates for all overtime and a regular hourly pay rate at least 30 percent above the California minimum wage.

When Can Bereavement Leave Be Taken? 
Not all familial relationships are covered. Employers must provide eligible employees up to five days of unpaid bereavement leave after the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. This is similar to an employer’s obligations under the California Family Rights Act, which provides time off to care for a sick family member. Any time off must be completed by the employee within three months of the date of death, but the five days of bereavement leave need not be consecutive. 

If requested by the employer, the employee must also provide proof of the employee’s eligibility to take bereavement leave (e.g., a published obituary, death certificate, or other written verification) within 30 days of the first day of the leave. AB 1949 requires that all the information provided by the employee (including the employee’s request) be confidential.

What are the Consequences for Not Providing Leave or Denying Bereavement Leave? 
AB 1949 prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who requests or takes bereavement leave. The law likewise prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against an employee who provides information or testimony about another person’s bereavement leave. It is also unlawful for an employer to interfere with or deny an employee’s exercise of their rights under AB 1949. Engaging in wrongful conduct may entitle an aggrieved employee to past and future lost income and benefits, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages.

For more information, please see the links below:

Assembly Bill 1949 (AB 1949)

Previous Vensure Communication (9/13/2022)

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above and their bereavement policies to ensure they comply with the new five-day requirement.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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