It is something that is difficult for any parent to contemplate but, should they experience the loss of a child, what provision is there for them to take time off work? Historically there has been no automatic statutory right to leave (paid or otherwise) for grieving parents. Employers could decide for themselves whether to grant compassionate leave, and many did so. However, from April this year, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (the Act) comes into force and introduces a legal minimum level of leave.

Under the Act, bereaved parents will be entitled to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to these two weeks paid at the statutory rate, while those under this threshold will be entitled to unpaid leave.

Parents will be able to take the leave as either a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of one week, in either case within a year of their child’s death.

The Act also extends this right to those with parental responsibility, such as adoptive parents and legal guardians.