What do we already know?
We updated you in our October 2017 Newsletter Government reforms (2): Family friendly – Parental bereavement leave that the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill had been published. We let you know that when this became law, it would give bereaved parents the right to time off work following the death of a child and introduce statutory parental bereavement pay for the first time.
The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill received royal assent on 13 September 2018 to become the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018. It is expected that the new rights will come into force in 2020.
Although the Act has been passed, it will need to be implemented by separate regulations. These regulations will set out precisely how parental bereavement leave will work and to whom it will apply.
The Act provides that:
- a bereaved parent is entitled to take at least two weeks’ leave which must be taken before the end of 56 days (beginning with the day of the child’s death) . The leave must be taken in blocks of one week but can be continuous or discontinuous;
- leave can be taken in respect of each child, where the death of more than one child is involved. A child is a person under the age of 18 (and includes a stillborn child after 24 weeks of pregnancy);
- the definition of a qualifying parent may be framed (in whole or part) by reference to the employee’s care of the child before he/she died (Regulations will provide more detail on the definition);
- the rules about rights during maternity leave (and other family leave) also apply during bereavement leave, including the right to the same terms and conditions (other than in respect of pay) and (broadly) the right to return to the same role;
- the process to be followed (the requirement to give notice and provide evidence) will be set out in Regulations; and
- the rates of pay are also to be determined by the Regulations but in order to receive pay (rather than be able to take leave), a parent must have at least 26 weeks’ service and received pay above the lower earnings limit for the last 8 weeks.