On behalf of Fairchild Employment Law | October 18, 2022 | California Leave Laws
Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1949, which requires California employers to provide five days of unpaid, bereavement leave. AB 1949 applies to private employers with 5 or more employees and public sector employees with at least 30 days of service.
Starting on January 1, 2023, it will be unlawful practice for an employer to refuse an employee’s request to take up to five days of bereavement leave upon the death of a family member. This also bill provides specific provisions as follows:
- The 5 days of bereavement leave do not have to be taken consecutively
- The bereavement lve must be completed within three months of the date of death of the family member
- The bereavement leave must be taken pursuant to any existing bereavement leave policy of the employer.
This family member can be a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.
If the employer’s existing policy provides for less than 5 days of bereavement leave, the employee is still entitled to five days. The bereavement leave may be unpaid, however, the employee may use vacation time, personal leave, accrued/available sick time, and compensatory time off that is otherwise available to the employee.
The employer may require that the employee provide documentation of the death of a family member within 30 days.
AB 1949 also makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to hire, or to discharge, demote, fine, suspend, expel, or discriminate against, an individual because of an individual’s exercise of the right to bereavement leave. This also applies to an individual’s giving information or testimony as to their own bereavement leave, or another person’s bereavement leave, in an inquiry or proceeding related to rights guaranteed under AB 1949. Moreover, an employer is required to maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting leave and any related information.
Finally, AB 1949 does not apply to an employee who is covered by a valid collective bargaining agreement if the agreement expressly provides for bereavement leave equivalent to that required by this section and for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of the employees, and if the agreement provides premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, where applicable, and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent above the state minimum wage.
This new law also directs the California Civil Rights Department to create a small employer family leave mediation pilot program for small employers that have between five and nineteen employees.