A bereavement leave or funeral leave is a privilege given to employees. This leave refers to an employee’s time-off from work so he can attend and arrange the wake or funeral of a deceased person. Some employers ascribe eligibility conditions before granting the bereavement leave to their employees. Because a bereavement leave is not federally mandated, conditions vary depending on the company’s set employee benefit program, according to EmployeeIssues.com.
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Bereavement leave benefits are usually agreed upon by the employers and employees or the trade union that represents the employees. There is no federal employment regulation or labour law that directly mandates U.S. employers to give bereavement leave to their employers, whether it’s paid or unpaid. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees can take a total of 12 weeks of unpaid time off from work, to personally care for family members who are in fatal condition. However, the FMLA does not include bereavement leaves, according to EmployeeIssues.com.
Bereavement leave is one of the traditional benefits voluntarily provided by employers, even if it is not stated in the actual employment contract. According to EmployeeIssues.com, many employers still offer bereavement leave benefits as a way of attracting and maintaining loyalty from employees. The usual bereavement leave can range from one to three days. Employers may approve these days as paid time off.
Employers may set conditions and restrictions to employees who are applying for a bereavement leave. Employers may restrict the leave to only the death of immediate family members. The employers may also have the option of paying the employees the full wage rate during the days of absence. Company owners can also restrict the bereavement leave privilege to employees who are in paid status. These conditions may be stipulated in the company’s rules and policy manuals given and discussed verbally to the employees upon hiring. These employment policy manuals are treated as legally binding by most states.
The employers may refer to the collective bargaining agreement to determine the number of days allowed for the leave and also to clarify the scope of the immediate family or household member definition, says Washington.edu. In the event that the companies do not specifically provide bereavement leave, the administration may allow employees to utilise their sick leave. Sick leave may also be used in situations that call for an extended leave time, such the need to travel long distance for the funeral. If employees are in the probationary period, the employers may still grant the bereavement leave request in exchange for extending the period to the equivalent number of days used for the leave.
Employees must always follow their department’s normal leave request procedures. In most situations, the employee needs to draft a written request that is subject for approval. If the bereavement leave is part of a documented policy provided by the company, the employee is considered legally entitled to take it. On the same note, the employers also have the right to conduct disciplinary action against the employee, should the policy be purposely violated. It is advisable to always check the policies that cover employee benefits to avoid future conflicts with employers, according to EmployeeIssues.com.
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