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Everything You Need to Know About Bereavement Leave in Virginia

Coping with the loss of a family member is undeniably one of life’s toughest challenges. During these difficult times, employers can play a crucial role in supporting their staff. Many employers in Virginia extend the provision of bereavement leave to help employees navigate their grief. Unfortunately, such accommodations are not universally mandated by law.

If you lost someone you love and need help navigating bereavement leave, we can help. At The Spiggle Law Firm, we empower employees through our knowledge in employment law. Whether you are facing workplace challenges, navigating leave policies, or seeking legal counsel, our team is here for you.

What To Know About Family Bereavement Leave in Virginia

Unfortunately, Virginia lacks a dedicated state-level family or bereavement leave statute, whether paid or unpaid. While employers in Virginia must adhere to applicable federal regulations, they enjoy substantial autonomy in establishing their own family leave policies.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Bereavement Leave

Under federal law, some private employers in Virginia must offer job-protected, unpaid leave in specific situations, as mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave to address certain family or medical matters. All private employers with a workforce of at least 50 employees in Virginia fall under the purview of the FMLA.

However, FMLA leave is not explicitly categorized as bereavement leave. Its application is reserved for situations such as caring for a critically ill family member or addressing a personal health concern. While it is possible for an employee to be granted FMLA leave following the death of a spouse, child, or parent, this leave must be tied to the employee’s own medical issue, such as mental health care or grief counseling.

Importance of Clear Employer Policies

While the law does not mandate it, many employers choose to provide bereavement leave on their own. However, it is imperative that Virginia employers establish and implement clear and consistent policies regarding leave. Whether paid or unpaid, if family or bereavement leave is an option, there should be a transparent process outlining how employees can request leave and what information is required by the company. Ambiguity or inconsistent application of policies is where employers are most likely to encounter challenges, given Virginia’s lack of mandated bereavement leave and the limited federal requirements.

How a Lawyer Can Help Navigate Bereavement Leave in Virginia

An employment lawyer can help you understand your rights regarding bereavement leave in Virginia. While state law may not mandate specific provisions, an attorney can guide you through potential options and any protections available under federal laws.

Reviewing Company Policies

Employers often have their own policies regarding bereavement leave. A lawyer can review your company’s policies to ensure you are aware of your entitlements and that these policies are consistent with applicable laws.

Negotiating Leave Terms

If your employer does not have clear bereavement leave policies or if you encounter difficulties in obtaining the leave you need, a lawyer can negotiate with your employer on your behalf to secure appropriate and compassionate terms.

Ensuring Compliance with FMLA

If you work for a covered employer, the FMLA may provide certain protections for bereavement-related leave. An attorney can assess your eligibility and guide you through the FMLA process.

Addressing Discrimination Concerns

If you believe you are being treated unfairly or facing discrimination related to your bereavement leave, a lawyer can help you assess the situation and take appropriate legal action to protect your rights.

Appealing Denials

In the unfortunate event that your bereavement leave request is denied, an attorney can assist you in filing appeals and, if necessary, pursuing legal action to address the denial.

Consult an Experienced Leave of Absence Attorney in Virginia

In times of grief, having a legal professional who understands the complexities of bereavement leave can be instrumental in confirming that your rights are respected and protected. If you find yourself navigating the complexities of employment law or facing challenges related to family leave, we can help. 

The Spiggle Law Firm team is dedicated to providing you with skillful advice and staunch advocacy. Call (202) 449-8527 or fill out our contact form to get started with a free case review.

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