Bipartisan House bill calls for FMLA bereavement leave
- A bipartisan group of House lawmakers introduced a bill requiring up to 12 weeks of bereavement time off for a child’s death under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), reports SHRM. The bill goes to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.
- Facebook announced in February that the company would provide up to 20 days of bereavement for immediate family members and up to 10 days for extended family members. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, made the announcement, adding that only 20% of private-sector employers offer paid leave after a loved one’s death and that it typically lasts just a few days.
- A few states have bereavement leave mandates, including Oregon, which requires employers with at least 25 employees to offer up to two weeks of bereavement, and Illinois, whose Child Bereavement Leave Act requires employers with a least 50 employees to provide as much as 10 workdays off for a child’s death.
By passing or introducing bereavement leave legislation — paid or unpaid — lawmakers are considering the emotional needs of employees coping with a beloved family member’s death and giving grieving parents time to cope with their loss.
As Sarah Riskin, a Minneapolis-based attorney, told SHRM, a loved one’s death can lead to depression, a condition that can be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Riskin warned that employers who penalize workers for taking off extra days of bereavement could be violating the law.
Attorney Robin Shea told SHRM that employers might extend bereavement time beyond the three-day allowance by basing it on employees’ relationship to the deceased, their involvement with funeral preparations and the amount of travel time that might be necessary.
An extended policy could give employees the flexibility they need. Employers just need to ensure that those extensions are administered fairly.