HR ADVISOR


If an employee leaves after working two hours due to her uncle dying, does she qualify for bereavement leave for that day?

When an employee suffer from a loss, bereavement leave provides paid time off. The short answer is that if your company has bereavement leave, then the employee could be covered. The answer also depends on whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt.

Bereavement Leave

Although there is no federal law regarding bereavement leave, most companies provide some kind of accommodation, even if they are unable to offer paid leave. Regardless of what type of benefits you extend, be sure to treat bereaved employees in accordance with your policy. Note that Oregon is the only state to require bereavement leave for employers with 25 or more employees.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees: Different Results for Partial Days

Non-exempt employees, typically paid hourly, are compensated for the time during which they perform work. For a non-exempt employee, a partial day of bereavement leave would be a necessary accommodation to allow the employee to leave if a loss occurred suddenly during the employee’s work shift. Whether that non-exempt employee is paid for the part of the day that she took bereavement leave depends on the company’s bereavement policy.

In contrast, exempt employees, typically paid a salary, are compensated irrespective of the number of hours they spend working or are in the office. No partial day is necessary, since the employee is compensated whether working the full day or not.

Bereavement policies should provide that employees may take partial days of bereavement leave if needed, and that, if the leave is paid, then both exempt and non-exempt employees will be compensated for partial leave days.

Final Note

Ultimately, bereavement leave works differently for every company and it typically depends upon the company’s own policy. For companies that offer bereavement leave, the employee handbook should state a clear policy that contains information on who qualifies as an immediate relative, whether the leave will be paid or unpaid, the number of days allowed off, whether any documentation on behalf of the employee is required, and if both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for the benefit.

Helpful Link:

Examining Paid Leave in the Workplace (including Bereavement Leave): https://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/articles/documents/09-0228_paid_leave_sr_fnl.pdf

Dawn Nott
Director, HR
Posted on Aug. 12, 2015, 2:27 a.m.
Disclaimer: The answers and information on HR Answers serve as basic guidelines and are for informational purposes only. While our goal is always to provide useful content, we are unable to provide legal, tax, or fact-specific human resources advice and encourage you to speak with your legal counsel, tax advisor, or human resources professional to understand how this information applies to you.