The California Legislature amended the California Family Rights Act, currently providing eligible employees with up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for their own or a family member’s serious health condition or bond with a newborn, requiring employers to allow eligible workers to take up to five (5) days of bereavement leave upon a family member’s death, which need not be consecutive.  California Government Code §§ 12945.7, 19859.3.  However, the California worker must complete the bereavement leave within three (3) months of the family member’s passing. California Government Code § 12945.7(d).

To be eligible for protected bereavement leave, the California worker must work for the employer for at least thirty (30) days before the leave.  California Government Code § 12945.7(a)(1)(A).  The law only applies to California employers with five (5) or more workers, including state, city, and county employers.  California Government Code § 12945.7(a)(2).

“Family member” means a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, domestic partner, or parent-in-law.  California Government Code § 12945.7(a)(3).

The California employer may request that the California employee provide documentation proving the family member’s death.  California Government Code § 12945.7(f).  Once requested, the California worker has thirty (30) days following the first day of their California bereavement leave to produce proof.

The California protected bereavement leave law contains an anti-retaliation provision.  California Government Code § 12945.7(g).  This provision makes discharging, demoting, fining, suspending, expelling, or discriminating against a California employee unlawful because that person exercised their right to bereavement leave by law or provided information or testimony as to their own or another’s bereavement leave during an inquiry or proceeding relating to rights afforded under the California bereavement leave law.

California employers must keep a California worker’s bereavement leave requests confidential.  California Government Code § 12945.7(i).

The California protected bereavement leave law does not apply to California workers protected by a collective bargaining agreement expressly providing bereavement leave equivalent to the leave required under this law, “and for the wages, hours of work, and working conditions of the employees, and if the agreement provides premium wage rates for all overtime hours worked, where applicable, and a regular hourly rate of pay for those employees of not less than 30 percent above the state minimum wage.”  California Government Code § 12945.7(k).

Please note that, while the California Family Rights Act contains a private right of action entitling California workers to initiate a lawsuit against any employer violating the law, California workers working for employing between five (5) and nineteen (19) workers may be required to mediate their claims through the California small employer family leave mediation pilot program before commencing their legal proceeding.  California Government Code § 12945.21(a).

If you believe that your employer has violated the California Family Rights Act, contact Astanehe Law.  Astanehe Law has experience representing California employees who have been discriminated against and suffered retaliation because they exercised their right to CFRA protected leave, including the new California protected bereavement leave.  Astanehe Law represents clients on a contingency fee basis.  Call us at (415) 226-7170 or email us at