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Compassionate leave and bereavement leave

Stephen SimpsonEditor's message: Recognising the devastating impact of the loss of a child, the Government is introducing a new statutory entitlement for bereaved parents to take two weeks' leave from April 2020. Employees on parental bereavement leave, which also covers parents who suffer a stillbirth 24 weeks or more into pregnancy, will be entitled to be paid at a statutory minimum level that mirrors other family leave.

Under this new type of leave, employees will be able to take time off immediately after the death without having to give a period of notice. Bereaved parents will also be able to take leave up to 56 weeks after the death of the child. If they need to take leave more than a few weeks after the death, they will 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 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. Our 2018 bereavement leave survey provides an indication of how employers approach this difficult issue.

Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to compassionate leave and bereavement leave.