Policy Statement and Reason

For the purpose of this policy, employees include staff unless otherwise indicated in sections below. All provisions of this policy apply, except that for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement, this policy does not create any benefits not expressly provided by that collective bargaining agreement and if there are inconsistencies between this policy and the collective bargaining agreement, the terms of the collective bargaining agreement will govern. 

The College recognizes the significance and importance of providing Bereavement Leave related to the death of a parent, family member, life partner or pet. 

Policy Guidelines


Regular full-time and part-time employees working 20 hours or more are immediately eligible for Bereavement Leave.  

Bereavement Leave

The College provides eligible staff employees with up to seven (7) days of leave (per incident) upon the death of a parent, family member or life partner, whether married or unmarried. 

Additionally, in the event of the death of staff employees’ pet(s), employees may use up to three (3) days paid Bereavement Leave in a rolling 12-month period (measured backward from the date an employee last used bereavement time for a pet).

Staff employees typically take bereavement leave immediately upon their loss.  However, since the grieving process and bereavement traditions vary, employees may use these days together or separately within 12 months of their loss.

Bereavement Pay 

Bereavement leave is paid leave (pro-rated for part-time staff employees) that is not deducted from staff employees’ paid time off balances (sick, personal or vacation). If additional time is needed, staff employees may submit requests to use additional accrued leave (e.g., personal or vacation time) to their supervisors.  Bereavement Leave is recorded on the timesheet.

Other Information

Related Policies

Key Offices to Contact 

Please contact Human Resources for further information regarding this policy and its implementation.

Links to Procedures or Forms

Not applicable


The College understands that the loss of a loved one is deeply personal and has endeavored to define parental and family member relationships broadly under the Bereavement Leave policy as follows:  

  • Parents: Parents under this policy are defined as biological parents, legal guardians, or relatives who served in the role of employee’s parent prior to adulthood.
  • Family Members: Family members under this policy are defined as children, spouses, life partners, sisters, brothers, grandparents, and the immediate family of the employee’s spouse or life partner. (A child is any child who is the biological child of the employee, who is adopted by the employee, or whom the employee supervised on a day-to-day basis and for whom the employee is financially responsible.)
  • Life Partner: Life partners are an unrelated and unmarried person who shares common living quarters with an employee and lives in a committed, intimate relationship that is not legally defined as marriage by the state in which the partners reside. The partnership consists of two people regardless of gender who share the same emotional, physical and financial commitment that legally sanctioned marriage provides.
  • Pets: Pets under this policy are defined as animals that were owned by the employee and resided with the employee.

The contents of this policy are informational only and are not conditions of employment.  This policy does not create any contractual obligations or alter the at-will employment of the College’s at-will employees. Emerson College reserves the right to modify, revoke, suspend, terminate, or change any and all policies and procedures at any time, with or without notice, as consistent with state and federal law.

Policy Effective Date: May 2019

Last updated: January 23, 2023