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  • How To Request Bereavement Leave: The Laws & Research Sources

    by LifeSong Milestones April 16, 2024 3 min read

    How To Request Bereavement Leave: The Laws & Research Sources - LifeSong Milestones

    Losing a loved one is a difficult time for anyone to go through, and taking time off of work to grieve and attend to funeral arrangements can be important for many people. In the United States, there are certain laws and policies that govern bereavement leave, but the specifics can vary depending on the company and state. Here is a guide on how to request bereavement leave from your work, as well as some resources for further research.

    1. Know your company’s policy - The first step to requesting bereavement leave is to familiarize yourself with your company’s policy. Check your employee handbook or speak with your HR representative to find out if your company offers bereavement leave and what the policy entails. This information can help you understand how much time you are entitled to, whether the leave is paid or unpaid, and what documentation you may need to provide.
    2. Notify your supervisor - Once you have an understanding of your company’s policy, notify your supervisor as soon as possible of your need for bereavement leave. Provide them with the details of your loved one’s passing and the anticipated time frame you will be off of work. This will allow your supervisor to plan for your absence and ensure that work responsibilities are covered while you are away.
    3. Follow company protocol - Be sure to follow your company’s protocol for requesting time off. This may involve filling out a leave request form, submitting documentation such as a death certificate, and following any other specific guidelines set by your employer.
    4. Understand your legal rights - In the United States, there are certain legal protections for employees who need to take time off work for bereavement. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, including the death of a family member. However, not all employers are covered by the FMLA, and there are eligibility requirements that must be met. Additionally, some states have their own bereavement leave laws that provide additional protections beyond the FMLA. Check with your state’s labor department to find out if there are any additional legal protections available for you.
    5. Communicate with your employer - Communication is key when it comes to requesting bereavement leave. Be honest with your employer about your needs and any issues that may arise during your time off. Keeping an open line of communication can help ensure a smooth transition back to work when you are ready.
    6. Consider your options - In addition to taking time off work, there may be other options available to you. Some companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) that provide counseling and support services to employees and their families. These programs can be a valuable resource for those coping with grief and loss. Additionally, there may be other support groups or community resources available to you if you need further coping assistance.


    Requesting bereavement leave from your work can be a difficult process, but it is an important step in taking care of yourself during a time of loss. Understanding your company’s policy, following protocol, and communicating openly with your employer can help make the process smoother. Additionally, knowing your legal rights and exploring other resources available to you can help provide additional support during this difficult time. Remember to take care of yourself and seek help if needed.
    If for some reason you still can’t get bereavement leave after exhausting your options, find out other ways to offer support by reading, “Is It Bad to Not Attend a Funeral?”

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