Managing bereavement leave

Bereavement leave can be taken at any time and for any purpose relating to the bereavement. It does not have to be taken straightaway or on consecutive days.

What an employee is entitled to

All employees (permanent, fixed-term, part-time and casual) can use bereavement leave if:

  • they have worked for you continuously for 6 months or:
  • they have worked for you for 6 months for
    • an average of 10 hours per week, and
    • at least 1 hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

Employees are entitled to bereavement leave every 12 months as long as they meet the above criteria.

If they do not meet the criteria due to changes in work, they’re not entitled to bereavement leave. However, the employee may re-qualify when they do meet the 6-month requirement.

You may agree to give employees additional bereavement leave above the minimum entitlement, depending on the circumstances. For example, if a funeral is being held a long distance away.

Employees should tell you as soon as possible when they have a bereavement, and they want to take leave.

Chart for employees to work out if they qualify for sick leave and bereavement leave  [PDF, 600 KB]

Minimum entitlement

Each employee gets bereavement leave for a minimum of 3 days per bereavement in the following circumstances.

  • The employee’s immediate family member dies (for example, parent, child, partner or spouse, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, parent-in-law).
  • The employee has a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Another person has a miscarriage or stillbirth and the employee:
    • is the person’s partner
    • is the person’s former partner and would have been a biological parent of a child born as a result of the pregnancy
    • had agreed to be the primary carer of a child born as a result of the pregnancy (for example, through a formal adoption or a whangai arrangement)
    • is the partner of a person who had agreed to be the primary carer of a child born as a result of the pregnancy.

Each employee gets bereavement leave for a minimum of 1 day per bereavement if another person dies and you accept they’ve had a bereavement. This is based on:

  • how close they were with the deceased person
  • whether they have to take a lot of responsibility for all or any of the arrangements for the ceremonies relating to the death
  • if they’ve any cultural responsibilities in relation to the death.

How much leave an employee can take

If an employee:

  • has not met the 6-month criterion so does not qualify for bereavement leave, or
  • wants to take extra bereavement leave (for example, wants to take 5 days for the death of their grandparent) then their employer can agree that the employee can take:
    • leave in advance, or
    • leave as annual holidays; you cannot make an employee take bereavement leave as , or
    • paid or unpaid leave.

Proof of bereavement

The law is silent about proof of bereavement. This means that requesting proof cannot be a condition for the employee taking bereavement leave.

You’re not prohibited from requesting proof, either. So, the concept of good faith would apply. This requires both you and your employee to be responsive and communicate, and not mislead or deceive each other.

Good faith

Payment for bereavement leave

Payment for bereavement leave is only made if the employee would have . Payment should be the employee’s or, if this is not possible or practical, then the (ADP) should be used. Payment for bereavement leave is made in the normal pay cycle.

Pay for sick, bereavement and family violence pay

Bereavement and public holidays

If the employee would have worked on a but has a bereavement, the day would be treated as a paid, unworked public holiday. Therefore:

  • the employee would be paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay (where applicable), but they would not be entitled to time and a half or an alternative holiday, and
  • no bereavement leave would be deducted.

Taking bereavement leave during holidays

If the employee is: 

  • about to take but has a bereavement before they go, you must let the employee take bereavement leave for the relevant period.
  • already on annual holidays and has a bereavement, you must let the employee take bereavement leave instead of annual holidays for the relevant period.
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