Compassionate & Bereavement Leave - EmployeeConnect
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Compassionate & Bereavement Leave

Balancing work life with home has always been a tricky slope for employees, but the slope gets even more slippery when one has to deal with a personal tragedy. Thankfully labour laws have put forth certain allowances for employees, like compassionate leave and bereavement leave, for when personal tragedies arise. So even if your employers might not be too keen on granting a leave to deal with grief, they must allow all employees to take these leaves to ensure compliance with labour laws. 

These types of leaves give employees the space and time they need to deal with any personal tragedy in their lives without affecting their salaries. If you or someone you know has had a personal tragedy and are curious to know how you can take time off in compliance with Australian labour laws, read below to understand your rights as an employee. 

What is Bereavement leave?

Leave that is granted to workers following the demise of a family member or loved one is known as bereavement leave. Employees can use this time off to attend funerals/memorial services to complete their journey of grieving. 

Coming back to work after suffering the loss of a loved one can be taxing on anyone, and employers need to ensure that the employees are given ample space to grieve. This does not only apply to giving employees bereavement leave but also there is a multitude of things that employers can do when their employee is grieving.

What is compassionate leave?

Leave that is granted to employees so they can spend time with an immediate family member or household who is suffering from a life-threatening illness or injury is known as compassionate leave.

A worker is also entitled to take this leave in the following circumstances:

  • Birth of a stillborn child in the employee’s immediate family or household 
  • If the employee or the employee’s spouse or de-factor partner has a miscarriage 


What is the difference between Compassionate Leave and Bereavement Leave?

While people often use these phrases interchangeably, compassionate and bereavement leave have very specific purposes. It’s when an employee needs some time off from work to deal with the death of a close family member or loved one. On the other hand, compassionate leave can include time taken off to look after the ailing health of someone close, like a relative or dependent.

When it comes to compassionate leave and bereavement leave policies, Australia is one of the more lenient nations. Not only do a lot of other countries not recognise anyone outside immediate families for consideration in this leave, but in many places, miscarriage also doesn’t come under the header of a bereavement leave. So while many places need to rethink these leave policies, Australia is surely not one of those places. 

How many days of Compassionate & Berevement leave are you entitled to in Australia?

Once employees meet the criteria for taking time off for these leaves, they are entitled to two days’ leave in Australia. Two days can be taken off each time they meet the criteria. The leave can be taken in the following ways:

  • The single continuous two-day leave 
  • Two different periods of one day each 
  • Any separate timing as per employer/employee mutual understanding


An important thing to note is that compassionate leave and bereavement leave doesn’t accumulate, and it’s not a part of an employee’s sick and carer’s leave entitlement. Employees can take compassionate leave and bereavement leaves any time they want. Suppose the employee is already in the middle of another type of leave, like annual leave, and they need compassionate leave or bereavement leave. In that case, they can use their time off for compassionate leave instead of the other leave. 

What else do we need to know about compassionate & bereavement leave?


– Who qualifies as an immediate family member?

The following people can qualify for an employee’s immediate family member:

  • Parent
  • Child 
  • Spouse or former spouse
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren 
  • Siblings
  • De facto partner/ former de facto partner


Immediate family can also include:

  • The immediate family of the worker’s spouse or de facto partner (or former spouse/ de facto partner)
  • Step-relations ( step-parents and step-children)


Anyone who does not fall into these categories does not get the employee to qualify for these leaves. Compensation and bereavement leaves are only provided for emergencies related to immediate family members. 

– Does the employee get full pay?

When it comes to payment compensation, full-time and part-time employees both receive paid compensation leave in Australia. Employees who take compassionate leave are paid at the base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have normally worked. This payment doesn’t include any separate amounts to which the employee may be entitled, including monetary allowances, overtime or penalty, loadings, bonuses, and incentive-based payments. 

As for casual employees, they can take time off for compassionate leave, but they won’t be paid for it. Another important thing to note is that compassionate leave cannot be cashed out. 

– Do they come out of sick leave?

No, these do not come out of sick leave. These types of leaves come under a separate header. Compassionate leave is for when someone in your immediate family has been injured or is suffering from an illness, while sick leave is for when you’re the one who has been injured or is suffering from an illness. 

Managing Employee Leaves in the Most Efficient Manner 

Managing leaves as an employer can be a hectic task if you don’t have the correct tools to keep a track record of all your employees, which in turn can lead to a logistical nightmare. 

Thankfully, there are some incredible tools, like EmployeeConnect, that can serve as an all-in-one HR software to help you take care of all your HR needs through one software. So whether you’re an employee seeking leave for some cause or an employer trying to keep track of your employees, all-inclusive HR software is the answer to all your problems. 

Just request a free demo now and test everything before spending a dime. Give it a shot now!

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Byron Conway

Content Coordinator at EmployeeConnect