In 2020, the California legislature considered a bill in which employers would be required to provide employees with bereavement leave, but the legislation didn’t make it to the Governor’s desk.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1949 reintroduces the idea of mandatory bereavement leave and expands the allowance from the 2020 proposal. AB 1949 would make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by an eligible employee to take up to 5 days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member, including a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law. AB 1949 would require that leave be completed within 3 months of the date of death. The bill would also require the employer to maintain employee confidentiality relating to bereavement leave.

The bill would require that leave be taken pursuant to any existing bereavement leave policy of the employer. Under the bill, in the absence of an existing policy, the bereavement leave would be unpaid, however, the bill would authorize an employee to use certain other leave balances available to the employee, including accrued and unused paid sick leave. If an employer’s existing leave policy provides for less than 5 days of bereavement leave, the bill would require the employer to provide a total of at least 5 days of bereavement leave to employees.

AB 1949 would not apply to employees who are covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for prescribed bereavement leave and other specified working conditions.

Jackson Lewis will continue to track legislation that affects employers. If you have questions about leave requirements in California or related issues, contact a Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.