AB1949: California Bereavement Leave

As of 1/1/23, bereavement leave became mandatory in California for certain employers. According to Assembly Bill 1949 (AB1949), which was signed into law by Governor Newsom on 9/29/22, private and public employers in California with 5 or more employees are required to provide up to 5 days of bereavement leave to eligible employees. This leave is granted upon the death of a family member, which is defined as a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.

The bereavement leave is protected and separate from the 12 weeks of leave offered under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) for other reasons such as serious illness or caring for others with a serious illness. Employers may require documentation of the death, and the leave must be taken within three months of the family member’s death.

This legislation marked a significant change in California’s labor laws, as prior to this, bereavement leave was left to the employer’s discretion rather than being mandated by law. As of 2023, only a handful of other states had bereavement laws: Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, and Washington.

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