Bereavement leave 

Who can get bereavement leave?

If someone close to you has died, you may be entitled to bereavement leave, which is paid leave that allows to you to grieve and take care of matters relating to the bereavement.

You would be entitled to bereavement leave if you are an employee and:

  • you have worked for your employer continuously for six months or,
  • you have worked for them for six months for an average of 10 hours per week and at least one hour each week or at least 40 hours each month.

You must notify your boss as soon as possible if you need to take bereavement leave.

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How much bereavement leave am I entitled to?

If the deceased is an immediate family member you can normally take three days’ bereavement leave. If more than one immediate family member has died at the same time, you are entitled to three days’ bereavement leave for each death. 

An immediate family member is your:

  • spouse or partner
  • parent
  • child
  • brother or sister
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • spouse’s or partner’s parent

If the deceased was outside of your immediate family but you were close to the person, have responsibilities related to the bereavement (e.g. to make funeral arrangements) or have cultural responsibilities in relation to the bereavement, you can ask your employer for one day of bereavement leave.

Your bereavement leave entitlement is renewed every 12 months. Note that these are the minimum entitlements for bereavement leave. Some employers provide more than this so it is worth checking your employment agreement.

You do not have to take bereavement leave immediately or all at once - for example you could take two days leave for a funeral and then a week later take a day of leave to help sort out the will.

Unlike sick leave, bereavement is not an annual entitlement that can be accrued. More about bereavement leave entitlements is on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Employment website.

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My boss won’t give me three days bereavement leave to attend a Tangi for a close friend. What are my rights here?

Your minimum legal entitlement to bereavement leave for the death of someone who is not immediate family is one day. It you need more than this it would be at the discretion of your employer.

If your employer will not allow you to take more than one day of bereavement leave, you can try to negotiate with them to take the other two days off as annual leave.

If your employer won’t let you take bereavement leave that you believe you are entitled to, you can contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on 0800 20 90 20 for information and advice.

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