Bereavement Leave and Bereavement Payments
Bereavement leave is time taken off work when someone has died.
Most employers will allow staff to take bereavement leave ( known as compassionate leave) when someone close dies. The amount of time you can take and whether or not you will be paid depends on the age of the person who died.
Who can get bereavement leave?
Bereavement leave (which is classed as one form of Compassionate Leave) is an entitlement providing either:
- The person who died was a dependant (a partner, parent, child or someone else who relied on the employed person)
- The person who died was a child who was stillborn after 24 weeks pregnancy; or
- The person who died was a child under the age of 18.
Some employers may choose to offer paid bereavement leave in other circumstances , but they don’t have to. Others may offer an employee unpaid leave or ask them to take holiday time.
How long can I take for Bereavement Leave (Compassionate Leave)?
An employer should allow the bereaved person to take a ‘reasonable amount of time.’ Traditionally in the UK, this has been 2 – 5 days. Parents are entitled to Parental Bereavement Leave, which is longer.
How long is Parental Bereavement Leave?
You are able to take two weeks of parental bereavement leave for any child who has died or was stillborn. This doesn’t have to be taken all at once. You can take two separate weeks, or only one week, depending on what suits you best. If more than one child has died, then you are entitled to this time off for each child.
There is also financial help for parents whose child has died.
Who is entitled to Bereavement Leave Payments?
This is only a right for parents. If the person who died was under the age of 18 or stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, then parents are entitled to statutory paid bereavement leave. Parents must be earning at least £120 per week.
The Government includes a range of roles as ‘Parents’ including partners and spouses of the parent:
- Biological parent
- Adoptive parent
- Parent of a child born to a surrogate
You may also be entitled if you had day-to-day responsibility for the child:
- If the child lived with you for the 4 continuous weeks before he/she died
- You fostered the child, paid by the local authority
- If you had day-to-day responsibility for care and were reimbursed for expenses
- You were getting payments under the terms of a will or a trust for taking care of the child
If your child died at less than 24 weeks pregnancy, then sadly, there is no provision for paid bereavement leave at the moment. You could consider asking your employer to honour your maternity and paternity arrangements.
What about my maternity or paternity leave?
If your child died before birth, then the birth parent is still entitled to maternity pay for up to 52 weeks after the date of the death. A father or partner can take their 2 weeks of paternity leave or pay.
You will be able to take parental bereavement leave after your maternity leave is finished.
How much is Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay?
You’ll be able to get either £151.97 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
Is there any other financial help once someone has died?
There are two potential sources of financial help after someone dies, depending on your circumstance. These are the:
- Bereavement support payment; and
- Funeral Expenses Payments
Bereavement Support Payments
Bereavement support payments are for the spouse or civil partner of someone who died. You need to claim this within three months of their death to receive the full amount. There is a first, larger payment and then up to 18 monthly payments after that.
There are two rates for this support:
- If you get Child Benefit, you get the higher rate of £3,500 initial payment and 18 monthly payments of £350
- If you don’t get this benefit, then you get the lower rate of a £2,500 initial payment and 18 following amounts of £100
These amounts are paid directly into your bank account.
If you already get other state benefits, then for the first year this money won’t affect them. After 12 months, it may affect how much income you receive from other benefit payments. Talk to your local Job Centre Plus if you receive Bereavement Support Payments.
Funeral Expenses Payments
The Government will provide a means-tested Funeral Expenses Payment towards the cost of the funeral if you are:
- On certain benefits or tax credits (see the link below in Further Reading for financial help with funerals, for the list of qualifying benefits);
- The partner, a close relative or close friend of the deceased and unable to afford it yourself; and
- The funeral will take place in the UK, the European Economic Area or Switzerland
The Government will ask for this payment to be returned if you inherit any money from the estate of the person who died.
Please note that if you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, the system is slightly different. We’ve put links at the end of this article with more information.
Help with funeral expenses for a child who died
The Children’s Funeral Fund pays suppliers directly for the costs of a funeral. This is so that the service can be provided free to the family at the point of need without them having to pay upfront.
The funeral director, crematorium or burial authorities will claim back their costs from the government and will advise as to what is covered by the fund. The family can then make choices about anything additional that they might want to include for their service.
If you are worried about paying for a funeral, please see our article called: “We can’t afford a funeral, what do we do?”
At Settld, we specialise in simplifying the process of end-of-life administration. Our service is free to members of the public and is designed to make it easy for you to notify companies when a loved one has died, and request closure, transfer or amendment of their accounts. All you have to do is fill in a simple online form.
If you’d like to know more about Settld and how we can help, visit our website www.settld.care or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0203 286 1398 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday)
Further Reading on Bereavement Leave
HR:4UK – Jack’s Law April 2020
ACAS – Time off for bereavement
GOV.UK – Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Leave
GOV.UK – Bereavement Support Payment
Good Housekeeping – Your Rights Around Compassionate Leave
Further Reading for financial help with funerals
Gov.UK – Get help with funeral costs
Gov.UK – Eligibility for Funeral Expenses Payments
Funeral Support Payments in Scotland
Funeral Payment in Northern Ireland
Help with the costs of a Child’s Funeral (The Children’s Funeral Fund)