The death of a child is one of the worst experiences a person could go through. Most employers are compassionate and flexible at such a devastating time, but sadly this is not always the case. In other situations, some employers are simply unsure of what they should, or can, offer to support their employee.
Currently there is no specific right to time off for bereavement leave. However, the government launched a public consultation to discuss the introduction of statutory minimum bereavement leave for parents who have lost a child. The consultation invited views on what arrangements should be made and how these should be implemented. Following this, in September 2018 the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 was given Royal Assent. Regulations which will detail how the Act should be operated more fully are still to follow. For this reason, the Act is not expected to be enforced on employers until April 2020.
Overview of the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018
The new law introduces a right for employed parents to be absent from work for a minimum period of time (two weeks) following the death of a child. Eligibility criteria and various conditions will determine whether parents are entitled to this leave and whether or not they are also entitled to pay. In addition to leave and pay, parents taking bereavement leave will be afforded employment protections similar to those associated with other forms of family related leave.
The new allowance will be one of the most generous statutory arrangements for bereaved working parents, in the world. The estimated cost of the new statutory payments is expected to be between £1.3 million and £2 million.
Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave
Entitlement to time off will be a day one right, meaning there is no minimum length of service required to be entitled to this type of leave from work.
An employee will be eligible for parental bereavement leave if the following definitions apply to them and the child who has passed away:
Definition: ‘Bereaved parent’
An individual will be defined as a bereaved parent if the employee satisfies prescribed conditions (to be confirmed in regulations) regarding their relationship to the child who has died. This may be framed (in whole or in part) by reference to the care of the child before their death.
A person under 18 years of age. At the least, this will include a child who is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay
Entitlement to pay will be conditional upon the employee being entitled to leave (meeting the above definitions), as well as the following conditions:
- The employee must be continuously employed for a minimum of 26 weeks, ending with the relevant week.
- The employee must have remained in continuous employment from this point, ending with the day on which the child died.
- The employee’s normal weekly earnings for the period of 8 weeks, ending with the relevant week, must not be less than the lower earnings limit in force at the time.
Definition: ‘Relevant week’
The week immediately before the one in which the child dies.
Definition: ‘Statutory pay week’
A week means any period of 7 days. A bereaved parent will only be entitled to payments if they provide notice to whoever is liable for the payments, stating the week (or weeks) which the payment should be made in respect of. (Regulations may detail the time frame within which the notice must be given.) Employers may require that this notice is given in writing. Further rules may be imposed by the Secretary of State, regarding matters such as: evidence of entitlement, amounts earned under separate contracts, how earnings should be calculated and other nuances.
Further HR Guidance
Webinar Recording Watch on Demand
The ‘Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay’ webinar has been recorded so you can conveniently watch it at a time to suit you. In this webinar we cover:
– Existing provisions (Time off for dependants)
– How the leave may be taken
– Rights during and after
– Application to stillbirths
– Implementing practice, procedures and policies.
Watch the webinar at www.hrsolutions-uk.com/services/parental-bereavement.
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