Sick leave: how many days are allowed for the death of a family member?

“Sick leave” is the term used to refer to the days of justified absence that the worker is entitled to for mourning the death of a family member.

The number of bereavement days to which the worker is entitled.

According to the current wording of Article 251 of the Labor Code (in force since May 1, 2023), the number of justified absences varies with the degree of kinship between the worker and the deceased person.

  1. Up to 20 consecutive days for the death of the spouse, not legally separated, or equivalent, children, or stepchildren (1st-degree relatives).
  2. Up to 5 consecutive days for the death of parents, stepparents, in-laws, sons-in-law, and daughters-in-law (other 1st-degree relatives or relatives by marriage).
  3. Up to 20 consecutive days in the event of the death of a person who lives in a de facto union or common economy with the worker.
  4. Up to 2 consecutive days for the death of siblings, brothers-in-law, grandparents, great-grandparents, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (2nd-degree relatives or relatives by marriage).
  5. Up to 3 consecutive days for gestational mourning.

No caso de primos, tios e sobrinhos a lei não atribui dias de nojo, ou seja, a possibilidade de falta justificada. No entanto, para comparecer ao funeral, com uma declaração comprovativa (da agência funerária, por exemplo) essa falta estará justificada.

Entitlement to psychological support in the event of the death of children and other close family members.

In cases of the death of descendants or first-degree relatives in the direct line, both parents have the right to request psychological support from the attending physician of the National Health Service (SNS). This support should commence within five days after the death.

This right, in effect since January 2022, also applies in cases of the death of close family members, namely spouse and ascendants.

From which day do the bereavement days begin to count?

The counting of bereavement days starts on the day of the death, unless a different time is agreed upon with the employer or established by collective labor regulation.

If the death occurs after the worker has completed their normal daily work period, the counting starts on the following day.

Does the counting of vacation days suspend?

The death of a family member postpones or suspends the enjoyment of vacation days, as it does not depend on the worker’s will and prevents the enjoyment of the right to vacation, which aims at rest and physical recovery. When the bereavement days end, the vacation resumes.

Are justified absences paid?

When the mourning days provided by law are fulfilled, the absences taken by the worker are justified and do not imply loss of remuneration (Article 249, paragraph 2, subparagraph b) and Article 255, paragraph 1 of the Labor Code).

Notification to the employer and justification of the absence

As a rule, absences should be communicated with a 5-day notice. However, in this case, as the event is unforeseeable, the law only requires that the notification of the death of the family member to the employer be made as soon as possible.

Within 15 days following the notification of the absence, the employer may require the worker to provide proof of the invoked fact for justification, i.e., proof of the death of the family member (Article 253, paragraph 2, and Article 254, paragraph 1 of the Labor Code).

That proof could be a statement of attendance at the funeral issued by the funeral agency, which also states the worker’s relationship to the deceased person.