A new right for parents to paid time off to grieve the loss of a child will come into force from 6 April 2020. The new right was revealed in the recently published Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who is entitled to time off?

The right to paid bereavement leave is only for employees in respect of their children. For the purposes of the Regulations, there are definitions of “child” and “parent”.

Who is a child for the purpose of bereavement leave?

The right is in respect of a child under the age of 18 who dies on or after 6 April 2020. This also includes still-born babies, or a child lost to miscarriage, on or after the 24th week of pregnancy.

Who is a parent for the purpose of bereavement leave?

The employee must be one of the following:

  • the parent;
  • the adoptive parent;
  • the parent-to-be;
  • the primary care-giver; or
  • the partner of any of the above.

How long must an employee have worked for their employer to be entitled to bereavement leave?

The right to bereavement leave is a ‘day-one right’: eligible parents are entitled to time off as soon as they start. But…they must have worked for their employer for 26 weeks to be entitled to receive statutory parental bereavement pay.

How long are parents entitled to take?

Parents are entitled to up to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave; the minimum amount of time that can be taken is one week.

The two weeks can be taken consecutively or separately at any time within 56 weeks of the date of the child’s death. This gives parents’ flexibility to choose when to take the leave. The leave entitlement period deliberately extends over one year to allow for time to be taken on the first anniversary of the child’s death.

In the particularly sad circumstances of the parent losing more than one child, they would be entitled to two weeks’ leave for each child lost.

What are parents to be paid during bereavement leave?

Only employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment are entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay. At the moment, the amount payable is the smaller of:

  1. £151.20; or
  2. 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings.

This is the same rate currently as statutory paternity pay.

How do parents take bereavement leave?

Parents who wish to take bereavement leave must tell their employer three things:

  1. the date their child died;
  2. when they want their leave to start; and
  3. the amount of time they wish to take off.

The Regulations are deliberately flexible to allow parents to take the time off at short notice. During the first seven weeks, an employee need only give notice of intention to take leave before they are due to start work on the first day of leave. From weeks eight to 56, leave requires at least a week's notice.

Comment

While many forward thinking employers will already have parental and other bereavement leave and pay policies in place and will in any event rally round their employees who find themselves in the tragic circumstances of losing a child, the new right will provide a welcome statutory minimum framework in relation to the provision and pay for such leave.

The Regulations are due to come into effect as of 6 April 2020. In advance of that date, employers should review their existing leave policies to bring these into line with the new requirements. For more information about the parental bereavement leave and pay, please contact Morag Moffett.

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Employment