Public Bereavement Policy

The good book states that there is a time to weep and a time to mourn. Unfortunately, most employers, companies and states don’t seem to have heard of it. For a simple answer, Public Bereavement Policy is not backed by the United States federal government and neither do most states. So the policies for companies in most states are left to their discretion, leading to shockingly low numbers, provided that they are even granted.

Public Bereavement Policy

No time to grieve

In most states, five days leave for the death of a loved one would be considered generous. However, it is much more likely to be fewer, depending on the applicant’s employment status and the relation to the deceased. It is not only for funerary preparations but to deal with grief. However, grief isn’t something that can be dealt with over a week. This issue is especially visible during tragedies, such as the current pandemic. There is no clearer sign that the current lack of federal mandate and policy is far behind the times and in dire need of reconstruction.

For further details please keep reading:

How Bereavement leaves are dependent on relationships?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); the average number of days issued as leave is generally dependent on the applicant and the deceased.

It can be summarized as follows:

Four days of Bereavement Leave are provided for the death of a spouse or child.

Three days of Bereavement Leave for the deaths of the following categories of people:

Domestic partner of the same or opposite gender.

Foster children.





Two days of Bereavement Leave are provided for the following deaths:


Relative of a spouse.

Relatives of a same-sex domestic partner.

Only a single day of Bereavement Leave for the following deaths:

Extended family members such as cousins, aunts or uncles or nephews and nieces.

Relatives of an opposite-sex domestic partner.

Not even a single day of bereavement leave for colleagues or friends.

The example of Oregon

Oregon is the exception to the above-stated rule. The state had passed a law that took effect on January 1, 2014, that dictated a comprehensive policy in regards to Bereavement Leave. The policy covers employers in Oregon under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) under the attachments for Bereavement Leave. Under it, up to two weeks are allowed for each family member within a year’s time period that takes within 60 days of death notification. The purpose of the leave as stated is to allow for the applicant to make the necessary preparations, attend the funeral and grieve. Furthermore, it will be upgraded to paid protection in 2023.


Other states also seem to be following Oregon’s trend.

They are presented below:

Illinois is offering two weeks of unpaid bereavement but only for the death of a child.

Maryland has also extended its Flexible Leave Act to allow employers that provide paid leave to be allowed to use for bereavement.

New York had successfully managed to pass it through the legislature but it was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Similar policies were proposed in California but vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

New Jersey’s proposal expands on qualifications for such leave by extending it to people termed as “closely associated”.

Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan initially also contained a section for paid leaves for bereavement but this was cut out.

The effects on people in regards to the pandemic

As stated before, while people may wish for it otherwise, grief isn’t a simple matter to be dealt with in a few days. It is a complex issue that evolves as the person adapts to the loss, provided that they are given time to do so. It usually requires the support of loved ones and time to do so. Presently, the time provided for grieving is limited. This turns the grief into something insidious, twisting people’s behaviour, clouding their minds and making them numb to the world. A study stated that for every death, nine people are left grieving. At the time of writing this, the death toll is well over 820,000. So, by using the same procedure the number of people left grieving comes out to near 80 million. The necessity of such a policy has never been clearer.


The present system is insulting to both the deceased and the applicant. What has been said about the situation is for full-time employees. The situation is far worse for part-time workers. However, all is not so bleak. The current pandemic has also managed to bring up this issue time and time again. Acknowledging that an issue exists is the first step to tackling it and as shown above, some progress is being made. The present pandemic has cut many lives short, so let us hope that those who remember and grieve for them can get some time in their lives to do so.

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for Bereavement Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

No. Also, if leave is taken to take care of an ailing family member, their death can end the leave.

What is the difference between funeral and bereavement leave?

The former is meant for attending funerals whereas the latter is for arranging and attending the funeral and for grieving. This generally results in the latter being longer.

How do I find out about my company’s policy in the matter?

Companies generally keep handbooks and pamphlets regarding such matters.

How can I tell if I am suffering from complicated grief?

Visit this URL and fill the questionnaire:

Public Bereavement Policy

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