Amazon’s Bereavement Policy: Only 3 Full Days

Lars Lofgren Avatar
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Full-time employees at Amazon are entitled to three full days of paid bereavement leave, also called funeral benefits, for the loss of an immediate family member or parent. Part-time employees receive three paid, part-time days off.

This time is allocated to employees to take care of family affairs, make funeral arrangements, attend a funeral, and grieve.

The following are classed as immediate family members: 

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Sibling
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent
  • Mother/father-in-law
  • Children-in-law 
  • It also extends to anybody that lives in the home permanently.

The term parent applies to adopted, step, or foster parents or similar guardians, and biological parents.

If employees fail to notify their supervisors properly prior to a shift or within 30 minutes of starting a shift, they may be denied bereavement pay. Department heads may also request evidence to verify the need for time off.

Employees can choose when they take bereavement leave, but the department head must approve the starting date.

The full policy is documented here.

How Amazon’s Bereavement Compares to the Rest of Big Tech

Most US companies offer 3 days of bereavement, Amazon’s offering thhis standard policy. Walmart also has 3 days of bereavement for example. 

While Amazon compares to most US companies, they seriously lag behind the policies of other major tech companies. Meta (Facebook) set the gold standard for compassionate bereavement policies in 2017 with up to 20 days, and others began to follow suit.

Here’s what the tech giants offer employees for bereavement leave:

  • Apple: Employees get up to two weeks of bereavement leave in the event of the death of an immediate family member.
  • Google: The search engine giant states on its careers site that it offers paid bereavement leave but doesn’t divulge how much. I’ve found different answers on Quora and Glassdoor claiming it’s 3 or 4 days. So on the lower end.
  • Meta: The company offers up to 20 days paid time off upon the loss of an immediate family member and ten paid days for extended family.
  • Microsoft: I’m seeing numbers all over the place, most of them are in the 3-5 day range. Microsoft has recently moved to unlimited PTO, they also have 4 weeks of paid caregiver leave if you’re caring for a dying loved one. Even if the bereavement is low, there’s plenty of other types of leave to use.

So most major tech companies provide 5-20 days off. Anything below 10 days is on the low end.

Is Amazon’s Bereavement Leave Policy Any Good?

No, Amazon’s brereavement policy is not good.

It’s the bare mininum.

Yes, the company extends its policy to the loss of anyone living in the employee’s home. This is really important for considering the needs of non-traditional families, which may be excluded from other companies’ bereavement leave policies. Many companies have different policies for immediate and extended family members. And nontraditional family strucutures usually aren’t accounted for at all. But that’s the only strong part of Amazaon’s policy.

Three days are not nearly enough time for a person to organize a funeral and family affairs, let alone take time to grieve.

Employees need time and space to recover mentally from a serious personal loss. When they return to work too early, everyone suffers. Including the employer. When I lost my father, I was running on autopilot for close to a year. And that was with a 10 day bereavement policy that we had. I can’t imagine going through that, only takign 3 days off, and trying to jump back in at full speed.

Furthermore, although Amazon has a defined bereavement leave policy on the surface, it is subject to be at the approval of department heads. Here’s the exact line:

Look, I won’t deny that on rare occaisons, an employee could take advantage of bereavement leave.

But let’s flip it. You’re an employee, you just received some of the worst news of your entire life, you have the misfortune of working for a power-hungry and strict department head, and your bereavement gets denied. Or your accused of lieing and you have to get proof that a parent, spouse, or child JUST died.

When someone takes advantage of bereavement, the manager and the company suffers slightly. It’s an inconvience and a management headache until that person can be replaced with someone more reliable.

When an employee loses a loved one and isn’t believed, that’s soul crushing. It’s trauma.

Maybe Amazon’s management training and guardrails are good enough that this never happens. If it was me, I’d make sure employees were fully protected.

What Should Amazon Change About Their Bereavement Policy?

I believe Amazon could do a lot more with their bereavement policy.

Extend Bereavement Leave to at Least 5 Days, Preferably 10 Days

3 days is an atrocisously short bereavement policy even if it is still common across US companies.

At the absolute least, Amazon should offer 5 days of bereavement.

To be honest, Amazon should really offer a more generous policy of 10 days paid time off to match their tech peers.

Timing of Bereavement Leave Should Be Flexible

This time should be offered on a flexible basis, meaning employees can take those days in a block or increments as needed. Grief is not linear, and handling family affairs and funeral arrangements is unpredictable.

Amazon doesn’t explicitly deny this in their policy. When there’s only 3 days available, most folks will use the time right away. But the real grief comes later.

And everyone processes grief differently. They may want to come to work initially to take their mind off things but find that grief hits them harder later.

Amazon should codify that employees can use the paid time off whenever they wish for a period after they hear the news. Most companies pick a timeline of 90-180 days. This should be added to the official Amazon policy.

Give Employees the Benefit of the Doubt

Amazon’s bereavement leave policy says leadership may ask for verification to support the request for time off. This implies they’ll ask for evidence from the employee, such as a death certificate.

Amazon should no longer give department heads the ability to deny bereavement leave. It’s too much power.

If an employee is abusing bereavement leave, that’s an extremely delicate situation that you don’t want to get handled by just a department head. A trained team of HR professionals should be responsible for investigating those types of claims and denying bereavement leave if necessary. 

Remove the Notice Period Requirement

Amazon requires that bereavement leave follow the notice periods of other leave policies:

The problem is that bereavement is not a normal type of leave. It is not planned.

What if someone gets the call during their shift? Their manager can look at the policy and then immediately deny the request to take leave immediately. So an employee is then forced to finish the shift.

That’s cruel.

The notification clause should be removed entirely, bereavement requires flexbility.

Include Miscarriages

I believe every bereavement policy should include miscarriages. Unfortunately, miscarriages still carry a weird stigma and most couples are afraid to tell anyone but their closest friends and family.

And they carry just as much grief as losing a child.

It’s a devasting event and most parents-to-be choose to suffer in silence. It’s horrible.

If I was Amazon, I’d add miscarriages to the approved list of immediate family members. It’s the right thing to do and it’s a powerful signal that theirs no shame in going through something like that.

Official Resources on Amazon Bereavement

When trying to verify all this stuff, use these resources:

I’ve only included official resources that you can trust. No rumors, anonymous reports, or outdated news articles.

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