Bereavement leave is a leave from paid employment acquired at the loss of a child younger than 18 years of age. A right to bereavement grant is also acquired due to miscarriage after 18 weeks of pregnancy, and stillbirth after 22 weeks of pregnancy. The Act on Bereavement Leave takes effect on January 1st 2023, and applies to parents who suffer the loss of a child, stillbirth or miscarriage on January 1st or later.
Duration of bereavement leave
Parents who have been working continuously, acquire an independent right to bereavement leave for up to six months from the day they suffer the loss of a child.
Parents who have been working continuously, acquire and independent right to bereavement leave for up to three months from the day of stillbirth after 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Parents who have been working continuously, acquire an independent right to bereavement leave for up to two months from the day of miscarriage after 18 weeks of pregnancy.
The start date of bereavement leave and when an entitlement expires:
A right to bereavement leave is acquired the day the parent suffers the loss of a child, and it expires 24 months later. It is permitted to start taking bereavement leave on the day the parent suffers the loss of a child.
Parents of a child
A parent and/or the custodian of a child has a right to bereavement leave according to provisions of The Act on Children, as well as others who have performed duties as parents of a child for a longer period than 12 months before the loss of a child. Therefore a stepparent or a foster parent can have the right to bereavement leave if the parent has been registered in cohabitation or married to parent/custodian of a child, or if the child has been in their foster care for a longer period than 12 months before the loss of a child.
The Directorate of Labour’s service center in Hvammstangi provides further information about who is considered a parent of a child.*
Accumulation and protection of entitlements
Bereavement leave is a basis for calculation of occupational rights such as sickness leave, vacation pay and extended vacation according to collective agreements, pay rise due to age, termination notice period, and entitlement to unemployment benefits.
An employment contract agreement between an employee and an employer remains unchanged during bereavement leave, and the employee shall have the right to return to work at the end of it. If that is not possible, the employer shall provide a similar job to him or her according to the employment contract.
It is not permitted to terminate employment when parents utilize their right to bereavement leave on the grounds that they have informed of a planned bereavement leave or during bereavement leave unless having valid reasons for doing so, and in that case reasons shall be given in writing for the termination.