Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) introduced his Assembly Bill 95, which would create a bereavement leave program. The bill would add Part 5.7 (commencing with Section 1515) to Division 2 of the Labor Code. Section One of the bill would add Part 5.7, which would be titled the Bereavement Leave Act of 2021.
The bill would provide definitions of the terms “child,“ “domestic partner,” “employee,” “employer,” “parent,” and “sibling.” An employer with 25 or more employees must grant an employee up to 10 business days of unpaid bereavement leave upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or domestic partner. An employer with fewer than 25 employees must grant an employee up to 3 business days of unpaid bereavement leave for the same individuals.
The bill would also prohibit an employer from interfering with or restraining the exercise or the attempted exercise of the right of an employee to take bereavement leave. In addition, the days of bereavement leave need not be consecutive. The bereavement leave must be completed within three months of the death of the family member for which the leave can be taken.
In addition, the employee, if requested by the employer, must provide documentation of the death of the family member within 30 days of the first day of the leave. “Documentation” is defined. An employee who is discriminated or retaliated against by the employer is entitled to reinstatement and to recover actual damages. The employee may file a complaint with the DLSE or bring a civil action without exhausting any administrative remedies. And, the employee can receive attorney’s fees and costs, including expert witness fees.
Finally, the employer must maintain the confidentiality of any employee requesting leave, and any documentation provided to the employer must be maintained as confidential. Section Two of the bill provides legislative findings and declarations that this new Labor Code Part imposes a limitation on the public’s right of access to the meetings of public bodies or the writings of public officials and agencies. The personal information of persons reporting suspected violations of this new law must be kept confidential.
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