Woman on couch holding pill bottle has conversation with loved one

Pending bills in the California Legislature would require employers to offer bereavement leave and add “family responsibilities” as a protected class under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The bereavement leave bill, introduced Feb. 10 by Assemblymember Evan Low (D), would bar employers from preventing employees from taking up to five days of leave when a family member — defined as a spouse or a child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner or parent-in-law — dies. If a business offers fewer than five days of bereavement leave currently, then the bill, if passed, would require it to extend the time period. If requested, an employer would need to offer two additional days off for an out-of-state death. An employee would need to take bereavement leave within three months of the family member’s death; the days would not need to be consecutive. 

“The employee, if requested by the employer, within 30 days of the first day of the leave, shall provide documentation of the death of the family member,” according to the bill. Documentation could include a death certificate, a published obituary or a written verification of the death, burial or memorial services from a mortuary, funeral home, burial society, crematorium, religious institution or governmental agency

The bill doesn’t require employers to compensate employees for the days off. Employees would be allowed to use vacation, personal leave, sick leave or other paid time off to cover days taken for bereavement. 

Family responsibilities bill

The family responsibilities bill, introduced Feb. 15 by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D), is meant to address discrimination against employees who might need time off to take care of family members. This bill would add “family responsibilities” as a protected class under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Employees could not be terminated for needing accommodations to care for family members.

Employers would be required to make a reasonable accommodation “for the known family responsibilities of an applicant or employee related to specified obligations,” and would be prohibited from retaliating or otherwise discriminating against an employee for requesting an accommodation, according to the bill.
The bill is expected to pass both the state Senate and Assembly and then go to the governor for his signature, JDSupra reported.