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Workers in California would be entitled to bereavement leave after the death of a close relative under legislation that cleared the Assembly this week.

The measure would allow employees to take up to four days off work upon the death of a spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild or domestic partner.

Proposed by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, Assembly Bill 325 cleared the lower house Thursday by a vote of 48-26, with no Republican support. It now goes to the Senate.

Employees could be required to document the death of their relative, perhaps by an obituary or funeral notice. They would not be entitled to pay during bereavement, unless they use vacation, leave, or other compensatory time off.

Supporters characterize AB 325 as an attempt to create a more humane society in which employees cannot be disciplined or fired for attending the funeral or grieving the loss of a loved one.

Opponents counter that businesses need flexibility to work such matters out with employees, free of political interference. They also ridicule provisions that allow leave to be taken for up to 13 months after the relative's death -- and on days that are not consecutive.

"We all want a humane society, but I don't think more and more regulations on our business owners will get us there," said Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton.

Bereavement leave would apply to full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers who have been with their employer for 60 days or more.

AB 325 would not alter or interfere with collective bargaining agreements that already regulate bereavement leave.


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