Being a responsible employer means providing time off to your staff for such reasons as bereavement leave. Offering employees the opportunity to recover emotionally before coming back to work is important for maintaining mental health. This, in turn, impacts job performance, motivation at work, and overall work-life balance.
Bereavement Leave Entitlement
Under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, employees who have been with the same employer for at least 90 days are entitled to an unpaid bereavement leave of three (3) days per calendar year upon the death of an immediate or extended family member. This leave is job-protected, which means that an employee cannot lose their job because of the leave. Any unused days allotted for bereavement cannot be carried over to the next year.
As an employer, you may provide bereavement leave to an employee who has worked for you for less than 90 days. However, this is not required under the Employment Standards Code.
Defining “Family Members”
Bereavement leave may be taken for the following “family members”:
- The employee’s spouse, adult interdependent partner, or common-law partner
- The employee or their spouse’s children, including current or former foster and step-children, and their spouse
- The employee or their spouse’s current or former wards
- The employee or their spouse’s siblings, including step or half-siblings, and their spouse
- The employee or their spouse’s parents, including step-parents, current or former foster parents, and/or guardians, and their spouse
- The employee’s grandparents and step-grandparents
- The employee or their spouse’s grandchildren, including step grandchildren, and their spouse
- The employee or their spouse’s aunts and uncles, including step-aunts and step-uncles, and their spouse
- The employee or their spouse’s nieces and nephews, and their spouse
- A person the employee isn’t related to but considers to be like a close relative
Requesting Bereavement Leave
Your employees must provide notice as soon as possible before taking bereavement leave. Under the legislation, they are not required to provide a medical certificate or other documentation to take this type of leave, but an employer can establish their own policies for documentation. We recommend establishing a bereavement leave policy to make available to your staff in an employee handbook.
Do you have questions?
If you have questions about leaves of absences, ask Employer Line’s HR experts. We offer a free dedicated advice line to small business owners. Call today at: 1 (888) 219-8767.