Bereavement Leave

The death of a loved one is a difficult time, and your staff will require time off when this happens.

Failure to give your employees time off following a death could be a breach of contract. Your employee could take you to an employment tribunal, which could lead to a heavy fine.

In this guide, we’ll explain what bereavement leave is, your employee’s entitlements to it, and the different rules across Canada.

What is bereavement leave?

Bereavement leave is the period someone is granted off work following the death of a family member or loved one. You need to include your policy surrounding bereavement within your employment contract or handbook.

What should I include in my standard bereavement leave policy?

Having a bereavement leave policy is a legal requirement. You must include the following in your bereavement leave policy:

  • Amount of time your employees are entitled to.
  • Who qualifies as family.
  • If bereavement leave is paid.

Is bereavement leave paid?

Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), there’s no requirement to pay staff for bereavement leave from work. However, the rules vary in some provinces.

How many days bereavement leave do your staff receive?

Staff have the right to take up to two days leave following bereavement. Although this isn’t paid, this leave is job protected. The average bereavement in Canada is three to seven days.

Throughout Canada, bereavement leave for part-time employees is the same as full-time.

What family members qualify for bereavement leave?

You must allow your employees to take leave following the death of an immediate family member. This includes:

  • Siblings.
  • Spouse.
  • Their or spouses’ parents, step-parent or foster parents.
  • Their or spouses’ grandparent, or step-grandparent.
  • Their or their spouses’ child, step-child or foster child.
  • Their child’s spouse.
  • Their or their spouses’ grandchild or step grandchild.
  • A dependant relative.

Entitlement for bereavement leave across Canada

Bereavement leave entitlements in Canada differ across provinces. Make sure your entitlements match the local legislation for your business:

  • British Columbia and Alberta: Employees are entitled to three days job-protected, unpaid leave.
  • Ontario: Employees are entitled to two days unpaid job-protected leave as per national legislation. Federal bereavement leave is 10 days.

Get help with bereavement today with BrightHR

It’s important to get your bereavement policy correct and adhered to. Losing a loved one is a terrible time for your employees, and they need to feel supported at work.

If you need any assistance with your HR bereavement policies, BrightHR has a range of tools to simplify tracking staff absences and leave entitlements. Making sure you get it right for your employees.

Our sick leave and lateness tools allow you to manage your leave in seconds. Contact us on 1 888 220 4924 or book a demo today.


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