Parental bereavement leave - what you're entitled to and how to get it

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You have a right to take up to 2 weeks of parental bereavement leave if both of these apply:

  • your child died on or after 6 April 2020

  • they were under the age of 18 or they were stillborn

You don’t have to be a birth parent of the child to be eligible - you might be an adoptive parent or a parent through surrogacy.

You’re also eligible if you’re a ‘parent in fact’, which you are if both the following apply:

  • the child lived with you for at least 4 weeks, up to and including the day they died

  • you had day to day responsibility for your child's care, but you weren’t paid for it

If you’re a parent on maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave, you have the right to take parental bereavement leave as well.

Your employer doesn't have to give you your normal pay if you take parental bereavement leave, but you might be able to claim parental bereavement pay.

Your employer might offer another kind of leave that you can take instead, which could be paid or unpaid. If you can take paid leave, you might be better off taking it instead of parental bereavement leave.

Who can take parental bereavement leave

You’re only entitled to parental bereavement leave if you’re an employee.

You might be an employee even if your employer or your contract says you’re self-employed. You might not be an employee if for example you work for an agency or you’re not guaranteed to get any work.

If you’re not sure if you’re an employee, check your employment status.

When you can take your parental bereavement leave

You don’t have to take it straight away if you don’t want to, but you must take all the leave within 56 weeks of your child’s death. 

You can take your parental bereavement leave as either one block of 2 weeks or 2 separate weeks.

If your partner is also entitled to parental bereavement leave you don’t have to take it at the same time.

How to get your parental bereavement leave

You should let your employer know:

  • you’re taking parental bereavement leave

  • when your parental bereavement leave will start and end

  • the date your child died

If you’re taking leave within 56 days of the death of your child, you should tell your employer as soon as possible. If you can, let them know before the first day of your leave.

If you’re taking leave more than 56 days after your child died, you have to let your employer know at least a week before it starts. 

You don’t have to give your employer any proof of what’s happened, for example a death certificate. They can’t ask you to take your parental bereavement leave at a different time.

Adding holiday to your parental bereavement leave

You can ask for holiday immediately after your parental bereavement leave if you want to spend more time away from work.

If you take holiday straight after your parental bereavement leave you’re still classed as being back at work.


Adrian’s parental bereavement leave ends on Sunday 18 September and he takes a week’s holiday straight away. He’s classed as being back at work on Monday 19 September even though he isn’t in the office until Monday 26 September.

If your employer won’t let you take parental bereavement leave

You should try and sort out the matter with them informally first.

If this doesn't work, you could try raising a grievance against your employer

Your employer can’t legally dismiss you for taking parental bereavement leave. If they do, you can challenge your dismissal.

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Page last reviewed on 06 April 2020