It can be difficult to think about practicalities and finances when your baby has died and everything is so raw. But finding out what support you’re entitled to could give you some breathing space. It can also allow you to have some more quiet time to grieve before returning to work.
The hospital or community midwife should give you a booklet called ‘Late miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death – A guide to the financial help available’, by the Money Advice Service. The booklet breaks down all the information here in more detail. You can also find the most up-to-date information on the GOV.UK website.
We have summarised the key points you will need to know here.
For parents who lost a baby before 24 weeks
For legal purposes, losing a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy is known as a late miscarriage. If you have lost your baby before 24 weeks, this means that you won’t qualify for maternity benefits including Maternity Pay. We know this can feel very unfair if you lost a baby very close to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but unfortunately it is the current situation.
However, if you’re an employee, you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (paid for up to 28 weeks depending on your employment contract) and you should be able to get Compassionate Leave. You will usually be entitled to Sick Leave immediately after the miscarriage. You may need a Fit Note (previously called a Sick Note) from your GP. In some circumstances, your employer may offer you Time Off for Dependents (TOFD).
Partners may also be entitled to Sick Leave and Sick Pay, Compassionate Leave or Time Off for Dependents. Most employers offer compassionate leave to bereaved parents as part of their basic contract of employment or employee benefits. Talk to your employer about what they can offer you or check your contract of employment and HR policies.
For parents who lost a baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or if the baby was born alive at any stage of pregnancy and then died
If your baby died after 24 weeks of pregnancy (a stillbirth) or if they were born alive at any stage of pregnancy and then died (a neonatal death), you will usually be entitled to full parental rights and benefits. If you’re already on Maternity Leave you do not have to take any action. But if the birth happens before you intended to start maternity leave, or before you gave notice of maternity leave to your employer, your maternity leave will start the day after the birth. You will need to inform your employer as soon as you can.
- Birth mums/birthing parents are entitled to 52 weeks’ Maternity Leave (if you have worked for long enough for your employer to qualify). See below for information about Shared Parental Leave.
- If you gave birth before your Maternity Leave started, your leave starts the day after you gave birth. You’ll need to let your employer know as soon as possible.
- You may be entitled to Maternity Pay from your employer, Maternity Allowance or income-related benefits from the state.
Dad or partners may be entitled to 1 or 2 consecutive weeks’ Parental Leave from your employer, as well as Sick Leave and Sick Pay, Compassionate Leave or Time Off for Dependents. Talk to your employer about what they can offer you or check your contract of employment and HR policies.
You need to claim your maternity or paternity pay within 28 days of giving birth.
Parental Bereavement Pay and Leave
From April 2020, parents may also be eligible for Parental Bereavement Leave and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay if they, or their partner, had a stillbirth. Parental Bereavement Leave is where an employee can take 2 weeks’ leave from the first day of their employment for each child who was stillborn. You can find more information about Parental Bereavement Leave on the GOV.UK website.
Shared Parental Leave
The rules are different for Shared Paternity Leave. If you and your partner have booked the shared leave with your employer before the baby dies, you’re both entitled to it. However, if you haven’t given notice, then you will not be eligible anymore. You can find more information about Shared Parental Leave on the Working Families website.
Visit Working Families to get detailed information about Shared Parental Leave.
Free prescriptions and dental treatment
If you have a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate, you can use this until it expires.
Sure Start Maternity Grant (Best Start Grant in Scotland)
You may be eligible for this if you have a low income and are getting certain benefits or tax credit. There are time limits to claim the £500 grant so please find out more from the Working Families website.
Support for funeral costs
If you live in England, the Children’s Funeral Fund can help to pay for some of the costs of a funeral for stillborn baby. The fund is not means-tested and isn’t affected by any savings or earnings. You can find out more about the Children’s Funeral Fund for England on the GOV.UK website. If you also receive certain benefits, you may also be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment (Funeral Support Payment in Scotland).
Support for you
You can talk to our Tommy’s midwives for free on 0800 0147 800. We are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. The midwives on the line have received training in bereavement care and will be able to talk to you about what you’re going through.
Money Helper (previously Money Advice Service)
Your local Job Centre or JobCentre Plus (in Northern Ireland: Jobs and Benefits Office,
or Social Security Office) can offer information and advice.