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Parental Bereavement Leave

What is Parental Bereavement Leave?

Parental Bereavement Leave is a period of one or two weeks’ leave taken at any time within 56 weeks of the death of a child. A child is anyone under the age of 18 and will include a baby that is stillborn after at least 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay is payable during this time, although some employers may choose to offer full pay as an employee benefit.

Eligibility criteria and conditions for Parental Bereavement Leave

In order to be eligible for Parental Bereavement Leave, the following criteria apply:

  • It is only available to employees, not other workers, self-employed contractors, or agency workers. However, there is no qualifying period required, making it a right that is available from the first day of employment.
  • Another main criterion is the relationship to the bereaved child. The Regulations are drafted widely to include most types of parental and quasi-parental relationships, including adoption and surrogacy arrangements.
  • Leave can be taken at any time in the period of 56 weeks beginning with the date of death. The leave may be taken as two consecutive weeks or two separate weeks at different times. A week is defined as a period of seven days, and does not have to start on a specific day of the week.

Notifying the employer

Whilst the method of notification is not important — a simple phone call will suffice — there are three things that an employee must notify their employer of:

  1. The date of the child’s death
  2. The date on which the employee wishes their leave to start
  3. Whether the employee wishes to take one week, or two weeks' leave in that specific period

In terms of the length of notice that must be given, there are two separate periods to consider:

Period A: This applies where the leave beings within the first 8 weeks, with the starting trigger being the death of the child. In this period, the notice required is significantly reduced. The employee must simply inform the employer before the time they are due to start work on the day they want to leave to start.

Period B: This occurs after Period A, that is from week 9 until week 56. In this period, an employer must be given 7 days’ notice of an employee’s intention to take Parental Bereavement Leave.

What should a well-drafted Parental Bereavement Leave policy cover?

A well-drafted policy should reflect the statutory framework and, importantly, inform employees who their notice of intention should be given to if they wish to take Parental Bereavement Leave.