Law guide: Employment

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Parental bereavement leave

Parental bereavement leave

Parental bereavement leave

Employees can take up to 2 weeks of parental bereavement leave for a child under 18 who died on or after 6 April 2020. This includes stillbirths after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The employee will be eligible from the day they start work (without needing a minimum period of service), but must have a qualifying relationship with the child.

2 weeks' leave can be taken for each child who has died.

Qualifying relationship for parental bereavement leave

An employee will have a qualifying relationship with the child if:

  • They're a natural (biological) parent.
  • They're an adoptive parent, having obtained an adoption order made in the UK or another country recognised by UK law (whether as a single person or as part of a couple).
  • They're a parent through a surrogacy arrangement, having obtained a parental order for a child born in the UK.
  • They're a natural (biological) parent of a child who has been adopted, and they have a court order giving them the right to contact, stay or visit them (which hasn't been discharged or revoked);
  • They intend to adopt the child, who's been placed with them by a UK-based adoption agency and the child has not been returned to the agency
  • They intend to adopt the child, who's been placed with them by a local authority through its 'Fostering for Adoption' scheme and it hasn't ended the arrangement.
  • They intend to adopt the child they're living with, who has come to Great Britain from overseas, and have an 'official notification' from British authorities confirming they are eligible to adopt.
  • They have a child born in the UK through a surrogacy arrangement and within 6 months after the child's birth they have or will apply for a parental order to adopt them, which is expected to be granted by a court.
  • They've lived with the child in their home for at least 4 weeks before they died, and had day-to-day responsibility for their care (such as being their guardian or a foster parent), and neither of the following applies:
    • Their parent, or someone else who has legal parental responsibility (or parental responsibilities or parental rights in Scotland) for them, was also living at their home; or
    • They were paid to care for the child. This excludes local authority fees paid to a foster parent, payments intended to reimburse expenses for the child's care, and payments received from a will or trust towards their care.
  • They are the partner (i.e. not a relative or friend) of anyone mentioned above who lives with them and the child in an enduring family relationship (a stable or continuing relationship that may be maintained through the child's life). 'Partner' includes those who are not married or in a civil partnership, as well as those who are.

When must employees provide notice?

An employee must notify you before they start taking parental bereavement. They should inform you of:

  • The date their child died (or date of the stillbirth)
  • The date they want to start taking parental bereavement leave
  • Whether they want to take 1 week or 2.

The notice doesn't have to be in writing and can be informal, such as a telephone call or text message.

When notice must be given depends of when the employee wants to take the leave.

During the first 56 days after death

If they intend to take parental bereavement leave during the first 56 days after their child dies, they should give you the above information on the first day that they want to take the leave, before they would be due to start work. If that is not reasonably possible, they should give it you as soon as possible after. This will obviously be an extremely difficult time for the employee, so you should try to be as patient and flexible as possible.

If an employee wants to start the leave on the same day that they give you notice, and they're already at work on that day, their leave will start on the day after.

After 56 days

If they intend to take parental bereavement leave more than 56 days after the death, they should give you at least 7 days' notice.

Length of parental bereavement leave

Eligible employees can choose to take either 1 or 2 whole weeks' statutory parental bereavement leave. They can take it in 2 consecutive weeks or 2 separate weeks at different times. They can't split up a week by taking a few days here and there.

A week is a 7-day period starting on any day.

Parental bereavement leave can begin any time from the date of the child's death, but must be completed within 56 weeks of this date.

Cancelling parental bereavement leave

Parental bereavement leave can't be cancelled once it has started. But the employee can cancel any future parental bereavement leave if they have notified you. This doesn't have to be in writing and can be informal, such as by phone or text message.

When they should inform you depends on when they told you about taking the leave:

  • During the first 56 days after the death: before their start time on the first day of the week they would have started taking parental bereavement leave.
  • After 56 days: 7 days before the leave is due to start.

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