Time Off to Attend Funeral Not Eligible for State/Federal Family Leave

DavidLeporiereI operate a business with close to 100 employees, and one of my long-term employees recently informed me that his mother passed away, and he would like to take a week off to travel to the East Coast to attend her funeral. To reduce stress at this difficult time, could I count this time off as protected leave under either or both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act?

Many employers wish to provide protected time off to employees for bereavement, but want to be sure if there are any leave laws that apply.

However, even assuming that the employee would meet the qualifications to be an eligible “employee” within the meaning of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), his time off to attend the funeral of his mother would not be a qualifying reason under either the FMLA or CFRA.

In that the employee is asking for time off to attend a funeral, rather than to assist a family member who is currently suffering from a “serious health condition,” the employee’s reason for the absence would not qualify under either the FMLA or the CFRA.

A “serious health condition” is defined as a condition that requires either an overnight stay in a medical facility, or ongoing treatment by a health care provider.

Although not required under federal or state law, to ensure employees get the time off that they need, many employers have a bereavement leave policy in their employee handbooks to protect this time off.

The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.

Staff Contact: David Leporiere