Higher Education Management, Hr Management,
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My question to everyone is, is it legal to ask an employee to produce a death certificate or to provide information concerning a funeral? I am writing a paper on employee rights and have need of an article or perhaps writte quideline that answers this question.
Thank you,
Student from Virginia

From United States, Temperanceville
:arrow: Yes it's legal...and it falls under Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Family Friendly Leave Act (FFLA):

Funeral Leave:

In the event of the death of an immediate family member, employees who have completed their probationary period are eligible for funeral leave with pay up to three (3) regularly scheduled workdays within one week from the date of the death. Immediate family is defined as husband, wife, parent, parent-in-law, step-parent, brother, sister, child, grandparent, grandchild, foster parent, legal guardian, same-sex domestic partner and child of same-sex domestic partner. Such pay may depend on the employee turning in valid proof of death and proof of relationship to the deceased to his/her supervisor.

Proof of death:

Proof of death is required with all claims for benefits. If the death occurred inside the United States, the best proof of death includes:

 A certified copy of the death certificate. This can be secured from the Bureau of Vital Statistics or Department of Health for the city, county, or state in which the death occurred.

 A signed statement of death by the funeral director.

 A copy of the coroner’s report of death.

 The verdict of the coroner’s jury of the state or community where death occurred. A certified photocopy of any of the documents described above is acceptable.

If the death occurred outside the United States, the proof of death can include:

 A report of death by a United States consul, or other agent of the State Department, bearing the signature and official seal.

 A certified copy of the public record of death.

 A signed statement of death by a funeral director.


I hope the above information will be of some help in writing your paper on Employee Rights. Besides, comments from other members related to this policy would be much appreciated. All the best, and good luck with your paper.



From Pakistan, Karachi

Yes Monika it is legal for a company to ask for proof of relationship/attendance at a funeral. Too many HR Managers have granted funeral leave to employees who then went hunting, or painted the house, or otherwise abused the privilege because they didn’t like the deceased.

Typically, a company will have some sort of Funeral Leave provision in either their policy and procedures, or employee handbook, or Union contract. Usually it will be something like this:

“In the event of the death in the employees’ immediate family,

the Company will grant an eligible employee three (3) consecutive

days off with pay to meet their obligations. The day of the funeral

shall be the last day of Leave. Unrelated uses of this time will not

be condoned. The employee must notify supervision before

beginning such time off and may be requested to furnish proof of

death and relationship.

Eligible employee shall mean an employee who has completed his/

her probationary period.

Immediate family shall mean the employee’s parents, spouse, child,

brother, sister, grandparents, grandchildren, mother/father-in-law,

son-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, and stepparents.

Pay for such time off shall not exceed eight (8) hours at the employee’s

regular rate and is limited to each day the employee was scheduled to

work, or was on vacation.”

This is a term and condition of employment (time off with pay), not a government mandate. It is provided as a “benefit” to employees the same as vacation and health insurance. There is nothing in the law that says a company has to provide such benefits. In fact, there are many employers who do not.

Adnan has referenced two (2) laws - Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Family Friendly Leave Act (FFLA). The latter applies only to Federal/ State government workers, and the former, I am quite sure, does not provide for funeral leave, only Leave to care for personal or family member continuing illness or adoption of a child (providing time to bond).

In addition, I think he has confused the evidence required for death benefit payments (re: Lump-sum Death Payment, Residual Lump-sum, and Annuities Unpaid at Death (US Railroad Retirement Board) with funeral leave verification. There is little, if any, relationship between the two.

Generally, from the company’s point of view, acceptable proof of relationship would be the obituary, or a memorial card, or the statement of the Funeral Director or recognized person who conducted the service. Actual proof of attendance is difficult to verify. An unscrupulous employee will find a way to get such evidence without attending the funeral.

Also note that the funeral leave provision was taken from the Employee Handbook of represented employees (aka: Unionized employees) at Johns Hopkins Hospital; mine was reproduced from a Steelworker contract I negotiated in the ‘90’s. As you can see, they are almost identical.

The essential elements are: employee eligibility, definition of “immediate family”, number of days of leave (calendar or working), compensation (“regular” - which could include shift differential, hazard pay, or other additional pay - or specific rate), when the Leave ends (usually the day after the funeral), and any other conditions (valid proof of relationship).

Hope this helps.


PALADIN Human Resource Consulting

PS: I’d like to read your paper. E-mail a copy to

From United States,
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