Money·2 min read

What Is Bereavement Leave? Here's What to Know Before the Unexpected Happens

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Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
August 3, 2022

Losing a loved one can leave you with a tremendous amount of mental and emotional stress. Not to mention financial woes, especially when it comes to the loss of immediate family members. That’s why many employers offer bereavement leave to help cope with all the changes you’ll have to navigate.

What is bereavement leave?

It’s when a company allows an employee to take time away from work to deal with the loss of a loved one. (Note: it isn’t always paid — more on that below.)Usually an immediate family member. Some companies also offer bereavement leave for the loss of extended family members or friends, but usually for a shorter amount of time. Because the expectation is that you wouldn’t be handling the major responsibilities like funeral arrangements.

How long is bereavement leave, typically?

The time frame depends on where you work. Because there aren’t any federal or state laws related to bereavement days. Unless you’re in Oregon. If you are, your employer could give you up to two weeks of bereavement. In other states, companies tend to go with the standard three to five days if they choose to offer it. 

Thankfully, that standard is slowly changing. Some companies are offering extended bereavement time.Goldman Sachs offers 20 bereavement days off, and Meta also gives employees 20 days. Even if your employer doesn’t give you 20 days, you can usually use PTO to cover any additional off days you need.

What about bereavement pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (aka FLSA) says companies don’t have to pay employees on bereavement leave. So, ultimately, the answer here depends on where you work, too. Lots of companies choose to pay employees on bereavement leave, even though it isn’t legally required. You can talk to your HR department to find out if yours is one of them. Or read through the benefits package you got when you started your job.

Do I have to take bereavement leave?

No. But that doesn’t mean you should try to work through your grief.And with all the arrangements that need to be made following the loss of a loved one, sometimes even the days your job does give you for bereavement leave may not be enough. Read: Grief comes in waves. And healing isn’t linear.


The grief of losing a loved one can be one of the toughest things anyone has to face. That’s where bereavement leave comes in. Talk to your HR department about your company’s bereavement leave policy.

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