The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 was granted Royal Assent on 13 September 2018, having started out in July 2017 as a Private Member’s Bill subsequently supported by the Government. The Act introduces a new statutory right to a period of paid leave in the event of the death of a child. It is believed that this affects about 8,000 parents a year.

The Act will offer, as a day one right, two weeks’ bereavement leave (unpaid) to any employed parent who loses a child under the age of 18, or who suffers a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Further, employees will be eligible for statutory bereavement pay if they meet certain criteria, including that they have been employed for at least 26 weeks, ending in the week of the child’s death, and have given the correct notice. It is designed to go some way to help ease the pressure on parents grieving a child.

Bereavement leave will have to be taken within 56 days of the child’s death and parents who have lost more than one child will be entitled to take leave in respect of each child.

There will be a further consultation on the practicalities of taking the leave, to be detailed in separate regulations in due course, setting out how parental bereavement leave and pay will be taken, and the eligibility criteria. This will include details of notice requirements, whether leave can be taken in separate blocks, and, whether employees who are not the biological parent of a child (but who have been significantly involved in caring for the child, such as step-parents) will also qualify for leave and pay. We expect that the criteria will in some way reference the employee’s care of the child before the child’s death.

Peter Stanway, our BackupHR™ legal expert comments:

The rights provided by the Act are expected to come into force in 2020, on a date yet to be determined but probably early April.

Under current legislation, employees only have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to make arrangements following the death of a dependant. However, the cases on this limit the amount of time off to one or two days at most, save in exceptional circumstances. The change in law is therefore the first time in the UK that specific bereavement leave has been made both a legal right for up to two weeks and paid, albeit this is very unlikely to mean full pay.


  • If you already have a policy we recommend that you follow your usual absence policies.
  • You may wish to review it in the light of the Acas guide to managing bereavement in the workplace
  • After the Regulations have been published, employers should review any existing policy or put one in place.
  • Ensure that managers are trained on the new law.

The guidance provided in this article is just that – guidance. Before taking any action make sure that you know what you are doing, or call us for a free initial chat on 01480 677980.