Worker Denied Bereavement Leave Because His Mother-In-Law Was In Hospice And ‘Technically’ Alive

Although it seemed harsh, his company may have been in the right.

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When you’re going through a hard time in your life, the last thing you want to worry about is your job. This is why bereavement leave exists.

However, your work may not always be thrilled if you need to take this time off. One company tried to prevent an employee from taking his allotted bereavement time, leaving him unsure of what to do.

An employee’s bereavement leave was denied because his mother-in-law wasn’t actually dead.

A worker shared his story of being denied the right to use his bereavement leave on Reddit. He explained that it was all because of the physical state his mother-in-law was in at the time.


“Recently, my wife and I traveled out of state on emergency to assist with end-of-life care for her mom (my [mother-in-law] for 30 years),” he said. “I put in for two days of bereavement (we get three).”

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After such a tragic event, the man surely didn’t think that his request for leave would be denied, especially for the reason that it was.

“First email I received from my manager after returning stated that I needed to use PTO because after discussing with HR it was agreed that my mother-in-law didn’t technically die. (She was on hospice care and died that night),” he said.

“Is this a really shifty thing to do to an employee, or am I overreacting?” he asked. “The company is always bragging that they are a family-first company.”

This man was confused about why he couldn’t use his bereavement leave for the time he took off to help with his mother-in-law, but his company was adamant.


Other Redditors were split on what the right thing to do here was.

This employee’s fellow Reddit users couldn’t agree on who was in the right here — him or the company.

Take the PTO day and then also the 3 days [of] bereavement that you’re entitled [to],” one person suggested. “Yes, it’s a bit weird that they care.”

“Take the three bereavement days now that she has ‘technically died.’ This is a really dumb thing for your manager to do,” someone else said.


A third person added, “Like others have said, take the PTO and bereavement. If working for a ‘family-first company’ is important to you, then use the time off to update your resumé and start sending out applications.”

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However, others felt that the company had the right to deny the bereavement leave because his mother-in-law wasn’t dead at the time.


“Bereavement leave is for when someone has died,” someone shared. “You are thinking of FMLA leave to care for someone who is sick, or family illness time that comes out of your sick time. Sick is not the same as death.”

“Sounds like you used/requested bereavement days before a death,” another person said. “Honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.”

As a third person summed up, “Sorry for your loss, but your company is in the right.”

It’s true that bereavement leave is not usually used before someone has passed away.

Paychex addressed this topic in a set of frequently asked questions. When presented with the question, “Can you take bereavement leave before someone dies?” they responded, “Under federal, state and local law, covered employers may need to offer FMLA or another type of leave for caregivers that can be taken as required. Employers may also elect to allow employees to utilize other paid time off, i.e., vacation, sick leave.”

@hackyourhr we should update bereavement leave policies 🫶🏼 #hackyourhr ♬ original sound - Amy | Hack Your HR

According to this information, bereavement leave is not typically used before someone passes away. There are other types of leave that can be used at those times.

However, this was a unique situation in which the employee’s mother-in-law passed away while he was on leave. For that reason, it may have been best to make an exception and show a little bit of empathy.

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news and human interest topics.