Ask the BPHR Advisor: Bereavement Policies

Ask the BPHR Advisor: Bereavement Policies 600 400 Balance Point Team

BPHR’s Director Lisa Salcido, SPHR, SHRM-SCP provides answers to your pressing HR questions.

Question: We just had an employee lose a loved one, how can we offer our support?

Answer: Everyone responds to grief in their own way but it’s likely that your employee will need some time off. Paid bereavement leave is not required by federal or New Jersey state law. However, most companies offer some paid time off for full-time, exempt employees, in addition to their PTO or personal time off policy.

Since there is no law guidance to follow, employers can create a bereavement leave policy that fits their company. Three consecutive paid days off is very common and covers enough time to make arrangements and attend services. Should an employee need more time off, such as with the death of a spouse or child or for travel, consider extending the bereavement leave time, using PTO/personal time or unpaid personal leave. Just be sure to apply this leave extension fairly for all employees.

Keep the lines of communication open so the employee can inform you of their plans to return to work. If you have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), be sure to offer their services and remind the employee that this benefit is free and how they can reach out to your provider.

If the company or co-workers would like to express sympathy, check with the employee first before sharing the news or providing an address to send flowers or where to attend services. This is a sensitive time, being respectful of your employee’s time off needs and other wishes is the best way to offer support.

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Have a question for Lisa? Email her directly.

DISCLAIMER: The material presented on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. 

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