Skip to content
Home » HR Industry Articles » Understanding California’s Bereavement Leave Law AB 1949: What Employers Should Know

Understanding California’s Bereavement Leave Law AB 1949: What Employers Should Know

    In a compassionate stride towards addressing the emotional needs of their workforce, California introduced Assembly Bill 1949 (AB 1949). This groundbreaking legislation, which took effect on January 1, 2022, significantly impacts how employers in the state handle bereavement leave. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of AB 1949 and highlight crucial aspects that employers should be aware of when managing their employees’ bereavement leave.

    The Genesis of AB 1949

    AB 1949 emerged as a response to the growing recognition of the emotional toll bereavement can take on employees. This legislation represents a significant step towards recognizing the importance of supporting employees during times of loss. It introduces crucial changes to existing labor laws, focusing on bereavement leave.

    What Is Bereavement Leave?

    Bereavement leave, often known as funeral or mourning leave, is a type of time off that employees are entitled to when they experience the loss of a close family member. The purpose of this leave is to allow employees to grieve, make necessary arrangements, and cope with their loss without the added stress of work responsibilities.

    Key Provisions of AB 1949

    AB 1949 brings substantial changes to the existing bereavement leave landscape. Some of the key provisions include:

    1. Expansion of Eligibility

    Under AB 1949, employers with 25 or more employees are required to provide unpaid bereavement leave to eligible employees. The legislation expands the definition of eligible employees to include those who have worked for the employer for at least 60 days.

    2. Duration of Leave

    Eligible employees are entitled to up to three days of unpaid bereavement leave per loss of a family member. AB 1949 allows employees to take this leave within 13 months following the family member’s death, providing flexibility in timing their bereavement leave.

    3. Covered Family Members

    AB 1949 extends bereavement leave to a broader range of family members, beyond just immediate family. Eligible employees can now take leave for the death of a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, and the child of a domestic partner.

    4. Notification Requirements

    Employers can request that employees provide reasonable advance notice of their intent to take bereavement leave. However, the legislation recognizes that this may not always be feasible, considering the unpredictable nature of death.

    5. Job Protection

    AB 1949 ensures that employees who take bereavement leave will not face adverse employment consequences for doing so. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for exercising their right to take this leave.

    Who Is Covered by AB 1949?

    As previously mentioned, AB 1949 applies to employers with 25 or more employees. This legislation extends its protective umbrella to a broad range of employees. It’s important for employers to understand who falls under this law to ensure compliance.

    Eligible Employees

    Eligible employees are those who have completed at least 60 days of service with their current employer. They are entitled to bereavement leave as long as the leave is taken within 13 months of the family member’s passing.

    Covered Family Members

    AB 1949 covers a wide spectrum of family members. Employers should be aware that employees are entitled to bereavement leave for the death of their spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or the child of a domestic partner.

    Compliance Considerations for Employers

    As employers navigate the implications of AB 1949, it’s essential to take certain steps to ensure compliance with the law. Failure to do so can lead to legal consequences. Here are some compliance considerations for employers:

    1. Update Company Policies

    Employers should review and update their company policies and employee handbooks to reflect the changes brought about by AB 1949. It’s crucial to clearly outline the company’s bereavement leave policy, eligibility criteria, and the procedure for requesting leave.

    2. Employee Communication

    Inform employees about the new bereavement leave law. Ensure they understand their rights and responsibilities regarding this leave. Open communication channels to address any questions or concerns they may have.

    3. Record Keeping

    Maintain accurate records of bereavement leave requests and approvals. Proper documentation helps in demonstrating compliance with the law and can be invaluable in case of any disputes or legal issues.

    4. Non-Retaliation

    Emphasize to managers and supervisors that retaliation against employees for taking bereavement leave is strictly prohibited. Educate them on the consequences of violating this provision.

    5. Review Leave Requests

    When employees request bereavement leave, employers should promptly review and process these requests in compliance with AB 1949. Ensure that employees are not denied leave when they are eligible.

    6. Seek Legal Counsel

    In cases where there are uncertainties or complex situations, it’s advisable for employers to seek legal counsel. Legal experts can provide guidance on how to navigate the nuances of AB 1949.

    Benefits of Complying with AB 1949

    While AB 1949 may pose challenges for employers in terms of administration and management, it also offers several benefits. Complying with this law can lead to a positive workplace environment and employee satisfaction.

    1. Employee Morale

    Compliance with AB 1949 demonstrates an employer’s commitment to supporting its employees during challenging times. This can boost employee morale and enhance their loyalty to the company.

    2. Legal Protection

    Ensuring compliance with AB 1949 protects employers from legal repercussions and potential lawsuits. It is in the best interest of employers to uphold the law and avoid costly legal battles.

    3. Reputation

    A company that is known for respecting the emotional well-being of its employees can develop a positive reputation in the labor market. This can attract top talent and enhance the company’s brand image.


    California’s Bereavement Leave Law AB 1949 represents a significant step towards recognizing the importance of supporting employees during times of loss. Employers in the state should be well-informed about the key provisions of this law and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance. By doing so, they not only adhere to the legal requirements but also foster a workplace environment that prioritizes employee well-being and, in turn, reaps the benefits of improved morale, legal protection, and a positive reputation. In a world where empathy and compassion in the workplace are gaining importance, AB 1949 aligns with the evolving expectations of both employees and society.

    Note: Information found on this site is information only and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please consult your counsel for specific legal advice. Some articles may not be updated to reflect current amendments. Always consult legal counsel for the current regulatory changes.