Government reforms (2): Family friendly – Parental bereavement leave

What do we already know?

We updated you in our August 2017 Newsletter Government reforms (1): Parental bereavement leave that the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill had been  introduced to Parliament as a Private Members Bill and intended to establish a new right for employed parents to paid leave to grieve on the death of their child.

What’s new?

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill has now been published, available here. As this Bill, which was originally a Private Members Bill, has now been adopted by the Government it is likely to be passed into law in the near future.

This law will give bereaved parents the right to time off work following the death of a child and will introduce statutory parental bereavement pay for the first time.

The key things in the Bill are:

  • An employee who is a bereaved parent will be entitled to be absent from work for at least two weeks in the period after the child’s death, for each child aged under 18 who has died;
  • The leave must be taken within 56 days of the death and it appears that it must be taken in blocks of a week or two weeks;
  • Regulations will  confirm exactly which relationships will count, for someone to be a bereaved parent;
  • The employee will have protection of their terms and conditions whilst taking bereavement leave (except those covering remuneration) and a right to return, with the detail to be confirmed in Regulations;
  • The Regulations may apply the right to parents of a child stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy (a point at which the mother would be entitled to maternity leave in any event);
  • Statutory parental bereavement pay will be introduced for the same two leave weeks, for those employees with 26 weeks’ service prior to the week in which the child dies and who earn over the lower earnings limit (currently £113 per week assuming the same rate is used);
  • Regulations will confirm the rate of pay, which the Bill provides can be set at a fixed and/or earnings-related rate;
  • There will be some notification requirement for entitlement to leave and pay – but this is unlikely to be onerous; and
  • An employee will be someone for whom employer’s NI contributions are paid, so this will extend to many workers (using the same definition as entitlement to SSP).