The Government has introduced the right to parental bereavement leave and pay. The new rights will come into force with effect from 6 April 2020.

So what are the changes?

  • An employee who loses a child under the age of 18 or suffers a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave to be taken in one block or as two separate blocks of a week.
  • The leave will be paid for employees who have at least 26 weeks’ service and who meet the minimum earnings criteria.
  • Statutory parental bereavement pay will be paid at the same rate as statutory paternity pay i.e. £151.20 per week (from April 2020) or 90% of weekly earnings if lower.

The Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 will introduce the right to leave, while the Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020 will govern the right to pay during such leave.

Eligibility to take parental bereavement leave is based on:

  • A child’s legal parents (whether natural or adoptive);
  • Natural parents who have lost their legal status as parents following an adoption or parental order but still have a contact order in their favour;
  • Adoptive and surrogate parents before a formal adoption or parental order is made once the child is born or placed with them for adoption; and
  • If the child has been living with them and they have had day-to-day responsibility for at least 4 weeks.

The minimum period of parental bereavement leave which may be taken by an employee is 1 week and the maximum is 2 weeks. Where an employee chooses to take 2 weeks they do not need to be consecutive and may be taken at any time within the period of 56 weeks beginning with the date of the child’s death.

There are some key specific notice requirements set out in the regulations.

Whilst there are many employers who already provide support to their employees who have to face this devastating situation, the Government has taken action to ensure that a minimum level of bereavement leave is available to all employees.

Employers will therefore need to understand how the new rights will be operated and modify or implement relevant HR policies before April.

These will be included as part of our monthly updates to our Online HR Toolkit.

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