Compassionate leave and bereavement leave

Stephen SimpsonEditor's message: Recognising the devastating impact of the loss of a child, there is a statutory entitlement across the UK for bereaved parents whose child dies to take two weeks' leave. Employees on parental bereavement leave, which also covers parents who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, are entitled to be paid at a statutory minimum level that mirrors other family leave.

Under this type of leave, employees are able to take time off within the first 56 days of the child's death without having to give a period of notice. If they need to take leave more than 56 days after the child's death, they have to provide one week's notice. This recognises that it is not just the immediate aftermath of the death that can be difficult: leave might also be needed later to attend an inquest or mark the first anniversary of the death of the child.

It is good practice for employers to have a parental bereavement leave policy, to set out how this type of leave works. Employers might also have a policy on supporting bereaved employees, which could cover bereavement leave, keeping in touch with staff while they are off work, and supporting staff on their return to work.

Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor

New and updated