Walmart’s Bereavement Leave = 3 Days, Which Isn’t Great

Lars Lofgren Avatar
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To me, Walmart’s bereavement leave policy is terrible.

Every employee at Walmart gets 3 days if the person that passed away is on their list of approved relatives for bereavement.

Some folks will say this is enough time for bereavement. I disagree. While it is a standard amount of bereavement leave compared to other major retail companies, I still think it’s atrociously low.

Someone could lose a parent, spouse, or child on Monday morning. And they’re expected to be back to work by Thursday. That’s crazy to me.

Walmart’s Bereavement Leave Policy

Walmart offers all staff three days of paid bereavement leave. This includes hourly associates and salaried employees.

Beyond that, the bereavement policy gets fuzzy. Walmart’s public policy docs are sparse on details. And from what I gather by digging through Reddit, it seems like there can be a real difference in how the bereavement policy gets applied from store-to-store.

Here’s what you can count on:

  • You get 3 paid days off for bereavement.
  • You should be able to take these days off when you like, they don’t need to be consecutive (I’m 90% sure on this).
  • Bereavement leave should cover any close relatives (parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, children).
  • You can use your PTO if you need additional time off.
  • To get more time after your PTO, you can consider an unpaid leave of absence of up to 12 weeks.

Now for the fuzzy part that I can’t confirm for you:

  • I can’t find the exact list of relatives that are covered. Every list I found was an anecdotal list from someone claiming to be a Walmart employee, I couldn’t find an official list. If you lost a more distant relative, I’d get confirmation from your manager on whether it’s covered. It seems like there’s some flexibility here but it comes down to how lenient your manager is.
  • I don’t know if your job is protected if you take a personal leave of absence for bereavement. Walmart does state that some leaves of absence are protected, others aren’t. I don’t know which bucket bereavement falls into. I’d confirm this before requesting unpaid leave.
  • I’m seeing reports on both sides about whether you need proof of death in order to get bereavement. My suspicion is that this is up to the manager. If that’s the case, most managers won’t ask for it. But if you have a horrible manager, they might.
  • I don’t know how long you have to use your paid bereavement days. Since there’s so little bereavement, most folks will use them immediately and this is a non-issue. But it would be nice to know how long you can hold onto them before they’re gone.

To get answers to these questions, I’m going to have to give you the blanket (and unhelpful) advice: talk to your manager and HR.

How to Maximize Bereavement Leave at Walmart

If you’ve lost a loved one, I’m really sorry for what you’re going through. I’ve been there. So here’s how to get every day possible while working at Walmart:

  1. Use the 3-day paid bereavement time first. When I lost my father, it was a shock and I immediately put in PTO in order to handle what was in front of me. You’ll probably want to use the 3 bereavement days immediately. Go for it.
  2. Use any PTO that you have. Walmart has a flexible PTO system, you can use PTO days however you want. If you try to go back to work and it’s a real struggle (totally normal), use as much PTO as you can. If you find work to be a good distraction (also totally normal), use your PTO whenever you find yourself ready to process your grief.
  3. If you need more time, take advantage of Walmart’s personal leave policy to get up to 12 weeks unpaid. This will be unpaid leave which could be a real struggle. But if you have some savings, taking the time for yourself could be very beneficial. Just make sure to confirm that your job will still be there when you get back. And get it in writing.

I know this time is extremely painful. I wish Walmart had a better policy. That said, the steps above will help maximize the time that you do have.

How to Get Bereavement Leave at Walmart

Employees must speak to their supervisor as soon as possible to notify them of their need for bereavement leave. 

Then the supervisor assesses employee circumstances to determine how much time off an employee needs. They consider:

  • How the employee is related to the deceased
  • The amount of travel required to attend a funeral or service
  • How much time off they’ve had in the previous 12 months
  • How their absence will impact the workings of the location

At this point, the supervisor may offer further options if they feel the employee may need more time off, particularly a personal leave of absence.

Walmart uses the mySedgwick portal to manage absences. To request a personal leave of absence, employees must:

  1. Speak to their manager and contact mySedgwick online or by phone.
  2. Input the reason for their leave (bereavement).
  3. Provide their Walmart Identification Number (WIN), two-week work schedule, and the date of the last day they worked.
  4. Input whether they intend to take leave in a block or incrementally and give an estimated return-to-work date.
  5. Opt-in to receive a response via email or text to get important information and their application result as soon as possible.
  6. Review the information packet sent by Sedgwick.
  7. Complete the release of information form.
  8. Upload any requested documents, if possible.
  9. Monitor the status of their leave, which should go from “pending” to “approved” or “denied” within approximately one day.

There are also some actions to take before the employee returns to work. They’ll receive an email to confirm the return-to-work date before the end of their leave. They must also complete a return-to-work certification form at least three days before returning to work.

How Walmart’s Bereavement Compares to the Rest of Big Retail

Most major retail stores in the US offer the same standard bereavement leave policy of three days when an employee loses an immediate family member. 

The terms of the bereavement leave only differ slightly from chain to chain:

  • Target – If you work 20 or more hours per week, you get 3 paid days for the death of an immediate family member. Or 4 hours for close friends or extended family. Seasonal, limited, and part-time staff are not eligible for bereavement leave.
  • Amazon – Full-time and part-time staff are entitled to 3 paid days off when they lose an immediate family member. The policy extends to foster, step, and adopted parents as well as anybody living in the employee’s home.
  • Best Buy – Full-time team members get 5 paid days of paid leave and part-time employees get 2 paid days. Seasonal employees do not qualify for bereavement leave.
  • Costco – Both full-time and part-time employees who have been with the company for over 90 days get 3 paid days.
  • CVS – Employees get 3 paid days off for the loss of an immediate family member, and they may receive one additional paid day for travel where necessary.

Basically, you can only expect 3 days of bereavement leave in the retail industry.

I think 3 days of bereavement is horrible. When I lost my father a few years ago, it took me about 5 weeks of leave and two years of therapy to process that. I used a bunch of PTO over several years to get through it. Even if my experience was abnormal, 3 days is nowhere close to enough time for someone to process the grief of a close relative.

At the company I co-founded, Stone Press, we offered 10 paid days for bereavement. Several folks took advantage of it, including myself. And if I’m being honest, I think 10 days is the bare minimum. Maybe we should have offered more.

While Walmart might be offering the same as everyone else in retail (3 days), I don’t think it’s nearly enough.

Is Walmart’s Bereavement Any Good?

Walmart’s bereavement policy is standard among big retailers.

But it’s not any good.

3 days of paid bereavement is basically the bare minimum offered by companies in America. While it’s standard, it’s still horrible.

After the death of a family member, 3 days isn’t even enough time to even deal with the logistics:

  • Contacting friends and family
  • Organizing funeral arrangements
  • Handling finances and insurance claims
  • Winding down any ongoing commitments (businesses, organizations, jobs, etc)
  • Sorting and cleaning out personal items
  • Attending the funeral

Depending on the circumstances, there’s weeks of work just in the logistics. Not to mention the emotional grief that takes even longer.

I’d laugh at how little three days of bereavement is if it wasn’t so sad.

Do I think Walmart offers enough bereavement? No, I 100% do not.

Also, the personal leave is a bit of a cop out. Yes, you can take up to 12 weeks of personal time. But it’s UNPAID. A lot of folks are not in a position to take that much time off without a paycheck. Walmart hires tons of hourly employees trying to make ends meet. Taking 3 months off is a luxury that a lot of them can’t afford. It’s great that it’s available but none of us should pretend like it’s an option for the majority of Walmart employees.

Also, it really bothers me that so much of the bereavement policy seems like it’s up to the discretion of the manager.

Like this claim on Reddit:

Could this be fake? Sure. But I’m also seeing other claims of needing proof.

Manager’s seem to have a lot of discretion about where to draw the line on what counts as a close loved one. I came across multiple reports of folks losing uncles having problems getting their bereavement approved. Which is kind of ridiculous considering it’s only 3 days of paid leave.

To recap, I don’t think Walmart has a good bereavement policy. It’s the absolute bare minimum and they should be doing a lot more.

What Should Walmart Change About Their Bereavement Policy?

Every company, especially one with as many associates as Walmart, needs to get its bereavement policy right. The bereavement policy affects employee productivity and retention, not to mention the perception of the brand among potential new recruits and customers.

To give some context, I’ve crafted a bereavement policy at my own company that provides 10 paid days off in the event of an immediate family member’s or close loved one’s death. Those 10 days can be used at any point within three months of the death, they don’t need to be used consecutively. It also includes miscarriages.

Here’s what I believe Walmart should change with its bereavement policy.

Extend Bereavement Leave to at Least 5 Days

While I personally believe that 10 days is the bare minimum for someone to begin grappling with the loss of a loved one, I’m also going to be practical. There’s no world where Walmart goes from 3 days of bereavement to 10 days.

But 5 days would be a huge improvement and it’s also possible. That gives folks a solid week. A drop in the bucket on their journey of grief but it’s a start.

Also, Best Buy is already doing 5 days. It’s embarrassing for any major retailer to be behind here. Especially after covid where so many of us lose loved ones. There’s a real case that Walmart should at least be matching their “best in class” peers.

Clarify Bereavement Policy Details in Public Documentation

Poke around on Reddit and Glassdoor and it’s immediately clear: there’s a TON of confusion on the details of Walmart’s bereavement. I spent hours digging in an attempt to find answers and I couldn’t confirm all sorts of details.

Even worse, I get the sense that managers have a lot of latitude on how exactly bereavement gets applied. Some people report having to prove a loved one died, others say that they didn’t. This is a real problem.

If there’s one policy that needs to be airtight, it’s bereavement. Employees are literally going through one of the worst moments of their life, there shouldn’t be any confusion or subjectivity about the bereavement policy.

Over two million associates work at Walmart. That’s a lot of folks that are heavily impacted by the details of this policy. 

Walmart’s PTO documentation is pretty good. The bereavement documentation should be just as good. Right now, it’s not.

Specifically, Walmart should clarify:

  • Which relatives are covered by their bereavement policy
  • If proof is required to take bereavement
  • If bereavement days can be taken separately, and how long an employee has to use them

Great Walmart Resources

To check Walmart’s policies yourself, start here:

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