Can I take time off work because of a bereavement?

Yes – as long as you qualify. 

You need to be an employee. You have the right from day one of your employment to up to two weeks’ leave if you lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. 

If you have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with average weekly earnings of at least £120 (April 2020) in the eight weeks up to the week of the bereavement, you are also entitled to statutory bereavement pay of £151.20 a week (April 2020) or 90% of weekly earnings if less.  

If you have less than 26 weeks’ service you are entitled to two weeks’ unpaid bereavement leave. 

This new law uses a wide definition of parent, based on parental responsibility. It covers not only biological parents but also adopters, foster parents and guardians and “parents in fact”, such as a close relative or family friend who has assumed parental responsibility.  

There are rules on giving notice. You must give the date of the child’s death, the date you want the leave to begin and whether you will be taking one or two weeks’ leave. There is no need to provide a copy of the child’s death certificate. 

Your contract of employment may provide better rights to leave and pay. 

A woman who suffers a stillbirth after 24 weeks, or loses a child during their maternity leave, remains entitled to maternity leave and pay.  

Charities such as the Lullaby Trust offer confidential support and resources to parents facing a child bereavement.   

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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