California Governor Gavin Newson has approved and signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1949, an amendment to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) that will take effect on January 1, 2023. AB 1949 now requires covered California employers to provide eligible employees with 5 days of unpaid bereavement leave for the death of a qualifying family member.
This bereavement leave must be completed within three months of the family member’s death and employers may not require that the employee take the days off consecutively. In the absence of an existing policy, the bereavement leave need not be paid by an employer; however, employers must permit an employee “to use certain other leave balances otherwise available to the employee, including accrued and available paid sick leave.” In the event that an employer has an existing bereavement policy that provides for fewer than five days of leave, the employer must increase that number to provide for five days of leave.
AB 1949 further provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to engage in discrimination, interference, or retaliation relating to an employee’s exercise of rights under the bill. Employers must also maintain employee confidentiality as it relates to bereavement leave.
Note that AB 1949 does not apply to employees covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement that provides for bereavement leave.
Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP has developed a sample policy reflecting AB 1949’s new requirement and is happy to provide it upon request to clients wishing to update their employee handbooks.