Bereavement Leave: The Complete Guide to Compassionate Leave in Australia

Bereavement leave, also known as compassionate leave in Australia, is time off to process a significant loss.
Bereavement Leave: The Complete Guide to Compassionate Leave in Australia

When you deal with the death of a loved one, you go through a period of grief. When you go through this immediate grief, you’re known as the bereaved and experience what’s called bereavement. In Australia, employees are eligible for what’s called bereavement leave.

In this article we outline what is bereavement leave, who is eligible and how the government supports you through this process.

What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of losing someone that’s close to you. It’s known as the emotional response you go through when mourning after a significant loss. Bereavement affects everyone in different ways and can last for weeks, months or years.

What is bereavement leave?

Bereavement leave, also known as a compassionate leave, is paid time-off that employees can use after the death a close friend, family member, child or spouse. This time is given for employees to cope with the grief they are experiencing from the loss.

When can you take compassionate leave?

In Australia, there are different circumstances when employees are eligible to take compassionate leave. These situations include the following:

  • An immediate family member dies or contracts a life-threatening illness or injury
  • A baby in the immediate family or household is stillborn
  • The employee or their spouse or de facto partner experiences a miscarriage

Depending on your employer, they may have additional measures in place to help during the bereavement period. For example, employees can experience bereavement intermittently so they may need to take the time off when it suits them best and not all at once.

How does it work?

Employees are eligible to take two days of compassionate leave when they lose an immediate family member. If you may be required to provide evidence in the form of a death certificate, death notice or obituary.

Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid time off for bereavement. However, casual employees can take compassionate leave that’s unpaid. If you leave a job, compassionate leave is not paid out in your severance package.

What happens if you need more than two days off?

If you need more than two days of compassionate leave, you can talk to your employer about using other types of leave including annual leave, sick leave, time off in lieu or unpaid leave. In any situation, the best way to understand what is available is to communicate with your boss.

Wrap Up

Bereavement affects everyone differently through a range of emotions. Compassionate leave is time to deal with this grief away from work when you need it the most. To help you plan the funeral of a loved one, visit our guides.

Keep reading to learn more:

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