Bereavement Leave Around the World

Erez Greenberg August 21, 2019

Bereavement or Compassionate Leave is time allowed off work for those who have experienced a death in the family. It is a time when sensitivity must be used to maintain a delicate balance of compassion and professionalism.

The only thing that should be on someone’s mind when a loved one passes is how they will properly mourn and honor their life. Whether it be funeral arrangements, getting estates in order, or simply grieving, it is hard time to balance both life and work. During these times, employees and employers are both faced with difficult tasks. Employees must focus on family and still meet work obligations, and employers must show sympathy while maintaining an operating business. If one isn’t aware of the contract and laws that bind them to their employer or employee, it can impede the duties each party must carry out.  A clear and transparent understanding of policy and terms between employee and employer is the surest way to guarantee a mutual understanding.

Bereavement Leave and Pay

Leave is different depending on where you are located. Obligations of an employer towards their employee differ depending on guidelines issued by government law or what is written within a contract. Leave is also stipulated on the relation of the deceased to the employee, and time spent working within the company. All these factors determine the amount of leave an employee will receive and if the leave will be paid. Mandatory paid leave is generally only required to employees who have lost a first degree relative.

Culture & Law

The mourning process is distinctly cultural, thus unique depending on the country. It is a process that is brimming with tradition and must be handled with respect. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a complete understanding of the country’s laws and an understanding of the culture in which you are situated. For instance, a country might not have a law regarding paid time off for bereavement, but the cultural standard is to provide leave, and so it is fixed in contract. By meeting cultural norms employers create a standard that satisfies its workforce. Understanding your countries bereavement law and cultural norms is the best way to be confident that employers are providing the proper leave and employees are satisfied.

Listed below is the minimum required leave an employer must provide a worker.

Australia

  • Australia grants 2 days of paid leave to employees whose immediate family member has passed.
  • Leave can be taken for two continuous days or two separate days
  • Casual employees are entitled to leave but not paid.

Brazil

  • Brazil allows for 2 days paid leave in the case of the death of a spouse, child, and direct relatives, such as parents and siblings. However, bereavement leave may last up to 5 days, depending on collective agreements, which may also include grandparents as eligible relatives.
  • The two days should be taken consecutively

Canada/Ontario

  • Canada grants 2 days unpaid leave per year for any worker
  • Leave is given if the deceased is a:
    • Spouse, parent step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild, step-grandchild of the employee, the employee’s spouse, spouse of the employee’s child, brother or sister of the employee, relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance.
  • Leave can be taken immediately or later to attend memorials, services, funerals or estate matters.
  • Some employers might request proof of entitlement for the leave.
  • Not all professional are permitted for leave due to it being considered act of professional misconduct or dereliction of professional duty. Professions that special rules apply or are exempt can be found here.

China

  • 1 to 3 days of paid leave is given to all Chinese employees with 3 days leave being the most accepted practice
  • Leave is given for death of a parent, spouse, or child
  • Different local rules around the country apply to bereavement leave. For instance, Shanghai provides leave for parent-in-laws as well.

France

  • France allows for 3 days of paid bereavement leave for spouse, partner, parents, siblings, or in-laws
  • 5 days paid leave is permissible for a deceased child
  • Paid leave is entitled regardless of one’s seniority within the company

New Zealand

  • Bereavement is granted to all N.Z employees who have been employed for at least six months for an average of at least ten hours per week and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours every month.
  • 3 days per death if a spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or spouse or partner’s parent dies.
  • 1 day per death if another person dies and their employer accepts, they’ve had a bereavement. This is based on:
    • how close they were with the deceased person
    • whether they must handle responsibility for any of the arrangements relating to the death
    • if they have any cultural responsibilities in relation to the death
  • Employees are entitled to bereavement leave every 12 months if the meet the criteria.
  • Full day pay is given to the employee if it occurs on a workday.

Singapore

  • Bereavement leave in Singapore is only dependent on contractual agreement between the employee and employer.
  • Contract norms typically allow for 3-5 days of leave

South Africa

  • Bereavement leave in South Africa is covered by Family Responsibility Leave.
  • 3 days of paid leave every 12 months is given to workers who have:
    • 4 continuous months of employment
    • Worked at least 4 days a week
  • The leave will be given in the case of death of a:
    • Spouse, life partner, parent, adoptive parent, grandparent, child, adopted child, grandchild, or sibling.
  • Employers can ask for proof of death

Spain

  • In Spain 2 days leave is given to all workers for the death of first- and second-degree relatives
  • 4 days is typically granted for the need to travel or attend the funeral
  • Employees should submit the request for leave in writing and may be required to provide proof of leave.

United States

  • The U.S does not have a law that grants mandatory bereavement leave.
  • Agreements should be made between employer and employee.
  • Many employers allow for 3 days paid leave for close family members.

Global Payroll for the New World of Work

Cutting edge technology that streamlines your payroll in over 100 countries for EoR, contractors, and payroll workers.