Law guide: Workplace

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Parental bereavement leave

Parental bereavement leave

Employees can take up to two weeks of parental bereavement leave for a child under 18 who has died. This includes stillbirths after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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

You will be eligible from the day you start work (without needing a minimum period of service to take parental bereavement leave), but you must have a qualifying relationship with the child.

Qualifying criteria for parental bereavement leave

You will have a qualifying relationship with the child if:

  • You're their natural (biological) parent.
  • You're their 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)
  • You're their parent through a surrogacy arrangement, having obtained a parental order for a child born in the UK.
  • You're their natural (biological) parent where the child has been adopted, and you have a court order giving you the right to contact, stay or visit them, that's not been discharged or revoked.
  • You intend to adopt the child, who's been placed with you by a UK-based adoption agency, and the child has not been returned to the agency.
  • You intend to adopt the child, who's been placed with you by a local authority through its 'Fostering for Adoption' scheme, and it hasn't ended the arrangement.
  • You intend to adopt the child, who is currently living with you, and has come to Great Britain from overseas, and you have an 'official notification' from British authorities confirming you're eligible to adopt.
  • You have a child born in the UK through a surrogacy arrangement and within 6 months after their birth you have or will apply for a parental order to adopt them, which is expected to be granted by a court.
  • You've lived with the child in your home for at least 4 weeks before they died, and had day-to-day responsibility for their care (such as being the child's guardian or a foster parent), and none of the following applies:

i. Their parent, or someone else who has legal parental responsibility (or parental responsibilities or parental rights in Scotland) for them, was also living at your home; or

ii. You 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.

  • You are the partner (i.e. not a relative or friend) of anyone mentioned above and live 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.

Statutory parental bereavement pay

If you are entitled to parental bereavement leave, you are normally entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay. For more information, see our Statutory parental bereavement pay section.

Employee notification of parental bereavement leave

You must notify your employer before taking parental bereavement leave. You should let them know:

  • The date your child died (or date of the still birth)
  • The date you want to start taking parental bereavement leave
  • Whether you 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 the notice must be given depends of when you want to take the leave.

During the first 56 days after death

If you intend to take parental bereavement leave during first 56 days after your child dies, you should give the above information on the first day you want to take the leave, before you would be due to start work. If that is not reasonably possible, you should give it as soon as possible after.

After 56 days

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

Length of parental bereavement leave

You can choose to take either 1 or 2 whole weeks' parental bereavement leave. You can take it in 2 consecutive weeks or 2 separate weeks at different times. You can't split up a week by taking a few days here or 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 you can cancel any future parental bereavement leave if you've notified your employer. This doesn't have to be in writing and can be informal such as by a call or text message.

When you should inform your employer depends on when you told them about taking the leave:

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

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