Can my employer legally give me only1 week to produce evidence of death for bereavement leave when it takes1 month to get death certificate?

UPDATED: Dec 8, 2011

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Can my employer legally give me only1 week to produce evidence of death for bereavement leave when it takes1 month to get death certificate?

My grandpa died 2 weeks ago and I took the 3 days of bereavement. When I returned I was asked for proof of death by my employer. My family situation is not a good one and my father is estranged from his family and was not given any information about the death. We only know he was cremated but don’t know where. It takes a month to get death certificate but my employer is threatening to charge me with falsifying documents if I don’t provide evidence in one week despite me trying to explain the circumstances. Do I have a legal leg to stand on? What can I do?

Asked on December 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You have our sympathy and condolences. Unfortunately, we cannot offer you the answer you'd like; the law does not require employers to provide death and bearevement leave; therefore, you employer is free to impose any conditions it likes on the leave, or to terminate you if you took leave without its permission or without satisfying its requirements.

It is almost impossible that it could charge you with a crime in this context--there is no general crime of "falsying documents," and while, in theory, it could try to claim a form of "theft" if you were paid for leave to which you are not entitled, the authorities would almost certainly not pursue that case--and if they did, you'd have plenty of time to prove the death and therefore that you falsified nothing.

If you can't get a death certificate in time to satisfy your employer, what about other forms of evidence--e.g. an obituary; paperwork from the funeral home; etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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