California’s Mandatory Bereavement Leave

Posted by Catherine Chukwueke | Feb 28, 2023

On September 29, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 1949, which amends the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) and requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with five (5) days of bereavement leave. AB 1949 became effective on January 1, 2023. 

What is Bereavement Leave?

Bereavement leave is the time taken off by an employee to deal with the death of a family member or loved one. 

Who is Covered?

AB 1949 applies to employers with five (5) or more employees nationwide. AB 1949 allows eligible employees (employees that have been employed for at least thirty (30) days prior to the leave) to take five (5) days of bereavement leave for the death of a family member. A family member is defined as a:

  • Spouse
  • Domestic partner
  • Parent
  • Parent-in-law
  • Grandparent
  • Child
  • Grandchild

Is Bereavement Leave Paid?

Absent a preexisting bereavement policy, the bereavement leave may be unpaid. AB 1949 authorizes an eligible employee to use other leave balances, such as accrued and available paid sick leave.

What Obligations Do Employers Have?

AB 1949 makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to grant a request by an eligible employee to take up to five (5) days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. Under AB 1949, the leave must be completed within three (3) months of the date of the death. The days of bereavement leave do not have to be taken consecutively.

Employers are required to maintain the confidentiality of the employee(s) requesting bereavement leave. Employers are permitted to request documentation relating to the death of a family member or loved one. Examples of such documentation include, but are not limited to: a death certificate, a published obituary, written verification of death, a crematorium, or memorial services from a mortuary. 

Who is Not Covered?

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


If you have any questions regarding your company's policies or need guidance on California employment law, contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of employment law with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. 

About the Author

Catherine Chukwueke

Catherine (“Cathy”) Chukwueke is the Owner and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke, a law firm focusing on labor and employment matters and workplace investigations. Ms. Chukwueke is passionate about helping people who have been mistreated in the workplace.

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