Background: Existing rights around bereavement
Where an employee has suffered a bereavement involving a dependant, the employee has a right to have ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with making arrangements. The dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone who depends on the employee for care. ‘Reasonable’ is not defined and will depend on the situation. An employer does not have to pay an employee for this time away from work, but many employers offer paid special or compassionate leave.
Female employees who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks are entitled to up to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave and/or pay. Similarly, the subsequent death of a child born alive would not affect the mother’s entitlement to maternity leave.
What is new? The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 was passed in September and provides additional rights for bereaved parents who lose a child under the age of 18. Bereaved parents who are employees will be entitled to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave. The right will apply from a date to be advised in 2020.
The right to a statutory payment will be subject to a 26 week service requirement and be dependent on the employee’s earnings being not less than the lower earnings limit (currently, £145.18 per week).
The Act envisages that much of the detail around entitlement and the process for taking Parental Bereavement Leave will be set out in separate regulations which are yet to be published
So, what detail do we know?
The government has consulted on some of the key issues that will inform the drafting of the regulations. The consultation focused on:
- The definition of a ‘bereaved parent’
- How and when Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay can be taken
- Notice periods for taking Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
- Evidence required for entitlement to Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay.
The government response, published in November confirms that:
- The regulations will use a broad definition of a ‘bereaved parent’ – the specification of who is eligible should be centred on the notion of a ‘primary carer’, whose relationship with the child is ‘parental’ in nature.
- Parental bereavement leave and pay should be able to be taken as a single block, or as 2 separate weeks.
- Employed parents will have a window of 56 weeks to use the entitlement. This aims to give bereaved parents the flexibility to take the leave and pay at the times when they most need it most, including around the first anniversary of the child’s death.
- Notice requirements will be flexible and will distinguish between leave taken very soon after the death and leave taken at a later period. No notice will be required for leave taken very soon (a period of a few weeks) after the date of the death, and thereafter one week’s notice is proposed.
- Evidence requirements will mirror existing requirements used for other family leave and pay rights, where it is practicable to do so. Evidence, such as a written declaration of entitlement will not need to be given by an employee in the initial period after the death of their child.
The next step will be the publication of the regulations expected sometime this year.
The right to take paid parental bereavement pay will apply from a date to be advised in 2020.
If you would like advice on how any of the above applies to your business, please contact one of the ELiAction team on 01494 817193 or info@ELiAction.com
In giving comment and advice in the article, we do not assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. If you have specific views which you wish to discuss, we would be pleased to assist you.