Bereavement Leave

Most employees have the right to take up to two unpaid days of job-protected leave each calendar year because of the death of certain family members. This is known as bereavement leave.

Do you have an employee who’s asked to take bereavement leave? Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA), all employees―regardless of the size of the business they work for and whether they work full-time or part-time hours―who have been employed for at least 2 weeks are entitled to 2 unpaid bereavement days every calendar year. Bereavement leave can be taken upon the death of certain family members.

What is bereavement leave?

The term, bereavement refers to the mourning period that is caused by loss, especially following the death of a loved one. When making reference to employment, it means job-protected leave to deal with the death of a family member.

Does the Employment Standards Act (ESA) cover bereavement leave?

The ESA for Ontario employers covers leave specifically for bereavement. If you’re an employer under the Ontario ESA, where bereavement is concerned, your employees can take two unpaid days for bereavement if the death is related to a family member. These relatives include the employee’s:

  • Spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders);
  • Parent, grandparent, child, grandchild (all of which include both fostered or step-related);
  • Spouse of the employee’s child;
  • Siblings; and
  • Relative who is care-dependent on the employee.

Bereavement leave can be taken at the time of the family member’s death, or sometime later to attend a funeral or memorial service. It could also be taken to attend to estate matters.


If you have questions about leaves of absences, ask Employer Line’s HR experts. We offer a free dedicated advice line to business owners, call – 1-888-219-8767