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Bereavement Leave: Commonly Asked Questions

Published April 07, 2021 (last updated April 13, 2021) Author: Employsure
employee happy they have access to bereavement leave

Losing an immediate family member or close friend can be tough for anyone. During this time, employees are entitled to take bereavement leave.

As an employer, you want to be able to support your employees and give them time off work to grieve. As with all entitlements, there are certain eligibility requirements and other provisions you should be aware of.

When Can Bereavement Leave Be Used?

Employees are entitled to use bereavement leave following the death of an immediate family member or close friend or if they or their spouse or partner has had a miscarriage or stillbirth. Bereavement leave can also be taken if the employee is involved in culture responsibilities (such as a tangi) or needs to organize the relation’s estate.

There is a definition of an ‘immediate family member’, which covers the following:

  • child
  • grandchild
  • grandparent
  • parent
  • sibling
  • partner
  • partner’s parent

This following definition means that the death of an uncle or aunt, for instance, are not covered by bereavement leave.

Can I Ask an Employee For Evidence?

You may ask an employee for evidence of their relation to the deceased. Understandably, this may be very sensitive for the employee so keep that in mind if you do wish to ask them for evidence.

If you do ask them for evidence, you can ensure that that information will be kept safe and secure with BrightHR’s document storage.

What Employees Are Eligible?

An employee needs to meet any of the below to be eligible to take bereavement leave:

  • have worked for six months continuously for the employer
  • have worked for the employer for six months for an average of 10 hours per week, or at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month

Employees, regardless of employment type, are eligible for bereavement leave.

BrightHR helping you manage your people and business

Contact us to find out how BrightHR people management software can help you manage your employee entitlements and store employee records.

How Long Can Bereavement Leave Be Taken?

The entitlement generally provides for three days’ of leave per bereavement.  An employee can take one day on the death of another person (that is, not a relation listed above) if the employer accepts there is bereavement.

How Can I Figure Out If There Has Been a Bereavement?

Whether there has been bereavement or not depends on how close the employee was with the deceased, their involvement in funeral, or similar, ceremonies, and any cultural responsibilities in relation to the death. Obviously, what bereavement is may vary from person to person.

What If an Employee Doesn’t Have Enough Bereavement Leave?

In this case, you and the employee must come to an agreement to take bereavement leave in advance, or to take annual leave in place of bereavement leave.

This is the recommended course of action in case an employee asks for bereavement leave when they’re not entitled to take it, or if they wish to take extra bereavement leave.

You can keep track of all your employees’ leave entitlements with BrightHR’s staff holiday planner. This planner can let you see all your employees’ approved and pending leave requests and their outstanding leave at a glance.

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About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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