New Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024

New Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024

On May 24th, 2024, the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) bill received Royal Assent, officially enacting the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024. This landmark legislation introduces critical new rights for bereaved fathers and partners, aimed at providing essential support during one of the most challenging times a family can face. The Act specifically addresses the needs of bereaved partners who lose the child’s mother, ensuring they have immediate access to paternity leave. This change marks a significant step towards more compassionate and comprehensive family leave policies in the UK.

Current Statutory Paternity Leave

Under the current legislation, statutory paternity leave lasts up to two weeks. To qualify, employees must meet specific criteria:

Continuous Employment: The employee must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the qualifying date, which varies depending on the situation:

  • In birth or surrogacy cases, this is around the 26th week of pregnancy.
  • In adoption cases, it is the week they are matched with a child.

Purpose of Leave: The leave must be taken to care for the child or to support the partner.

Restrictions: The employee must not have already taken shared parental leave.


However, this framework has been criticized for not accommodating partners who have not met the 26-week employment requirement, leaving them without statutory support during a period of bereavement. Additionally, the two-week duration is often considered inadequate for those who become primary caregivers following the death of the child’s mother.

Identified Gaps in the Current paternity bereavement Law

The existing paternity leave legislation presents significant gaps for bereaved partners. One major issue is that partners who have not worked for their employer for 26 weeks are ineligible for statutory paternity leave, leaving them without formal support during bereavement. Additionally, the current provision of up to two weeks of leave is often deemed insufficient, especially when the partner becomes the primary caregiver following the mother’s death. Employers can allow leave in such circumstances, but statutory rules do not permit reclaiming the associated costs. These gaps highlight the need for more inclusive and supportive policies for bereaved families.

Key Changes Introduced by the Act

These changes ensure that bereaved partners have immediate and flexible support during their time of need.

Implementation and Future Regulations for Parental bereavement leave

Before the new paternity leave rights under the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024 can be enforced, additional regulations must be established. The upcoming general election plays a critical role, as the newly elected government will be responsible for implementing these regulations. Currently, the Act grants access to leave but does not extend rights to pay, a matter likely to be addressed by the next government. This legislation applies to England, Scotland, and Wales, but excludes Northern Ireland due to devolved employment law.

This crucial step ensures that bereaved partners receive the necessary support, though it hinges on future political developments.

Parental bereavement leave | Coverage and Regional Application

The Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024 applies to England, Scotland, and Wales, ensuring bereaved partners in these regions have immediate access to paternity leave rights. However, the Act does not currently extend to Northern Ireland, where employment law is devolved and operates separately. This distinction means that while the rest of the UK benefits from the new legislation, similar provisions in Northern Ireland would require separate legislative action by its devolved government. This regional difference highlights the varied landscape of employment law within the UK.

Check if you’re eligible

How to claim


The Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024 represents a significant advancement in supporting bereaved families. By making paternity leave a ‘day one’ right and removing restrictive conditions, the Act ensures that bereaved partners have the necessary time to grieve and adjust to their new roles. This legislation acknowledges the emotional challenges faced by bereaved partners and aims to provide them with compassionate support during such difficult times.

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