Taking bereavement leave

Bereavement leave gives you time to grieve and to take care of matters if someone close to you dies.

What you're entitled to

You can use bereavement leave if:

  • you have 6 months’ current continuous employment with the same employer, or
  • you have worked for the employer for a total of 6 months at any time for:
    • an average of 10 hours per week, and
    • at least 1 hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

You are entitled to bereavement leave every 12 months, after meeting the above criteria.

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

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

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

You should tell your employer as soon as possible when you have a bereavement, and you want to take leave.

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

Minimum entitlement

You are entitled to bereavement leave for a minimum of 3 days per bereavement in the following circumstances:

  • Your immediate family member dies (for example, parent, child, partner or spouse, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, parent-in-law).
  • You have a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Another person has a miscarriage or stillbirth and you:
    • are the person’s partner
    • are 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)
    • are the partner of a person who had agreed to be the primary carer of a child born as a result of the pregnancy.

You get bereavement leave for a minimum of 1 day per bereavement if another person dies and your employer accepts you’ve had a bereavement. This is based on:

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

Cara is entitled to three days’ paid bereavement leave when her brother Jake is killed in an accident. The funeral is in Sydney. Cara uses two days of paid bereavement leave to attend the funeral. Cara takes another day of bereavement leave 6 months later to go to a local memorial service.

Tane is entitled to 3 days’ paid bereavement leave when his grandmother dies. He takes 2 days straight away to attend her tangi. A year later, he takes a day’s paid leave to attend the unveiling of his grandmother’s headstone.

Ngaire takes 2 days’ paid bereavement leave when her sister dies after a long illness. Over the next few weeks, she takes 2 more half days of paid leave to talk to the lawyer about settling the details of her sister’s will.

If you do not qualify or want extra bereavement leave

If you have not met the 6-month requirement, so, do not qualify for bereavement leave, or want to take extra bereavement leave (for example, you want to take 5 days for the death of your grandparent) then your employer can agree that you can take:

  • leave in advance, or
  • the leave as  ; your employer cannot make you take bereavement leave as annual holidays, 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 you taking bereavement leave.

Your employer is not prohibited from requesting proof, either. So, the concept of good faith would apply. This requires both you and your employer 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 you would have . Payment should be your or, if this is not possible or practical, then the (ADP) should be used. ADP can also be used if your daily pay varies within the pay period the leave falls.

Payment for bereavement leave is made in the normal pay cycle.

Pay for sick, bereavement and family violence pay

Bereavement and public holidays

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

  • you would be paid their relevant daily pay or average daily pay (where applicable); but you 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 you’re: 

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

Learning module: Leave - employee rights and responsibilities(external link)

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