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Bereavement policy
Kalinda Dunn4/8/24 11:43 AM2 min read

Bereavement for Non-Family Members

The standards for bereavement leave, especially for non-family members, can vary widely depending on the company's size, location, and internal policies, as well as applicable state laws.

Below are some guidelines to consider when designing a bereavement leave policy:


Company Policy Considerations

  • Inclusivity: Consider defining "family" broadly to include non-traditional relationships, reflecting the diversity of employees' personal connections. Some companies choose to leave the definition of significant relationships to the discretion of the employee to promote inclusivity.
  • Flexibility: Offering a flexible bereavement policy can help accommodate diverse employee needs. This could include a set number of days for close relationships, with the understanding that "close" is not limited to blood relatives.
  • Documentation: While it’s sensitive to ask for proof in times of bereavement, having a policy around documentation can help manage leave consistently. The policy should be applied uniformly to avoid discrimination.
  • Mental Health Support: Bereavement leave policies can be complemented by providing access to counseling or mental health services, recognizing the impact of grief beyond immediate bereavement.


Implementation Tips

  • Communication: Clearly communicate the bereavement leave policy to all employees, including any updates. Transparency helps manage expectations and supports employees during difficult times.
  • Training for Managers: Ensure managers are trained on the bereavement leave policy and how to handle requests sensitively. They should be prepared to provide support and direct employees to additional resources.
  • Consistency and Fairness: Apply the bereavement leave policy consistently to all employees to maintain fairness and avoid potential discrimination issues.


Review and Feedback

  • Continuous Review: Regularly review and update the bereavement leave policy based on feedback from employees and changes in law or company culture.
  • Employee Feedback: Engage with employees to gather feedback on the bereavement policy. Understanding their needs and experiences can guide policy adjustments.


Here is some sample wording that can be used, which companies can adapt to their employee handbook as they see fit:

Regular employees will be provided with five days of paid leave upon the death of a member of their immediate family. Members of the immediate family are defined as a parent, spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling, grandchild, parent-in-law, and corresponding step-relatives. Additional unpaid leave may be requested and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Proof of death may be required.

When a company is crafting its bereavement leave policy, it is important to consider the unique needs of the company’s workforce and the nature of their work. A compassionate and flexible approach, within the framework of applicable laws and company objectives, can help support employees through their grief while maintaining operational effectiveness.

Thanks to our HR & Compliance partners at Mineral for helping us out and sharing their guidance! They remind us that grief never looks the same for anyone – it is different for every event, every individual, every day.



Kalinda Dunn

With an innate desire for helping others and a vested interest in the healthcare, Kalinda is our customer service guru.  She combines her public health background and empathy for others to provide solutions to any problems or issues that our clients may be facing.  Her daily goal is to make the day better for someone else and she wants to see our employers succeed in their respective fields. With her thorough communication skills and desire to get to the bottom of a dilemma, she is able to provide helpful resources for our employers and their employees alike. 

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