SUMMARY: A bereavement leave policy that is understood by all employees before a loss occurs can help to reduce the stress of uncertainty for both the manager and the bereaved employee.

A clearly stated bereavement leave policy should specify:

  • Length of the leave – Some organizations allow 3–5 days for a relative or partner and 1 day for someone who is not related.
  • Eligibility based on relationship (domestic partner, parent, step- parent or foster parent, child, sibling, in-laws, etc.).
  • If the leave is paid or unpaid.
  • If the leave includes terminal illness or only applies in the event of death.
  • Other conditions such as eligibility based on length of service or collective agreement.
  • Name and contact details of who should be notified when bereavement leave is required.

Implementation of the bereavement policy should include:

  • Legal review of the policy, if appropriate.
  • Regular reviews by management to ensure the policy remains relevant.
  • Training for managers on how to respond when notified of a request for bereavement leave.
  • Communication of the policy and key messages to all employees, including senior personnel.
  • Providing a copy of the policy to all new employees upon hiring or transfer.
  • Acknowledgment in writing or by e-mail from all employees that they have received and read the policy and/or amendments.
  • Posting of the policy and/or amendments prominently in a place where all employees will see it and have regular access to it.
  • Instructions to all managers about what is expected of them in carrying out the policy. Where necessary, provide training or education.
  • Annual discussion between managers and their staff about this particular policy.

See also Grief Response.

Additional Resources

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Sample bereavement leave policy provided courtesy of Government of Newfoundland and Labrador