Can I be denied full bereavement leave?

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Can I be denied full bereavement leave?

My employee handbook states that as a full time employee I’m offered up to 3 paid bereavement days if an immediate family member passes. When I put in for 2days off, I was told that since services would be here in town I would only be granted 1 day off and would need to use my vacation time for the other since I am not having to travel anywhere. However, nowhere in our handbook does it say this. Is there anything that I can do?

Asked on September 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Bereavement pay usually does apply to travel to and from a funeral-- however, the definition can vary by employer.  Because it's not officially defined in your hand-book, your options are slightly limited.  They are limited because bereavement is a "fringe" benefit, and not time that your employer is required to give you by law.  Your first option is to appeal through your employer.  If a manager gave you this interpretation-- go to HR.  If HR gave you this interpretation-- go the next level up-- manager, store manager, CEO, corporate.  The next step just depends on how the company you work for is set up. 

Your second option is to use the vacation day and then file a suit to get reimbursement for the bereavement day.  The problem with this option is that it will probably cost you more in filing fees than the cost of the one bereavement day.  Your success in the suit will depend on the court's interpretation and historical application of the bereavement day policy.  If the policy has historically been used in the same way you were trying to use it-- then you will have a better chance with the suit.  Considering the cost of a suit, your would want to go this route mainly to prove a point.


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