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