As long ago as September 2018, the Government passed the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018. The Act creates a statutory right to time off work for employed parents, with pay in some cases, following the loss of a child under the age of 18 (including a stillbirth after 24 weeks).
The Act left the details of the scheme to be set out in regulations. A consultation was carried out and the government’s response was published in November 2018. On 23 January 2018, the government published Draft Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 (PBL Regulations) and the Draft Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020 (SPBP Regulations), and issued a press release confirming that the new law would cover parents of children who die or are stillborn on or after 6 April 2020.
Parental bereavement leave: summary
Who is eligible?
- Available only to employees (which includes apprentices, agency workers, office cleaners).
- No minimum length of service requirement.
- Applies on the death of a child under 18, including a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
- The right applies to the child’s parent(s), which includes an adoptive parent, prospective adopter, intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement, a parent “in fact” (someone looking after the child in that person’s own home for the last four weeks), or that person’s spouse, partner or civil partner, but not a paid carer.
How and when leave can be taken
- Leave can be one week, two continuous weeks, or two separate weeks, starting on any day of the week.
- Leave may be used anytime in first 56 weeks after death or stillbirth of child.
The length of notice an employee must give to the employer depends on how long after the child’s death the leave is due to start.
- During first seven weeks, 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 8 to 56, leave requires at least a week’s notice.
- Leave can be cancelled or rearranged with the same degree of notice as above.
- Employees are protected from dismissal or detriment for exercising their right to leave.
Employees taking parental bereavement leave may also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay (SPBP) if they meet the statutory eligibility criteria and provide the relevant notifications and evidence.
Statutory parental bereavement pay: summary
- Available to employees (see extended definition in Parental bereavement leave: summary) with at least six months’ continuous service and normal weekly earnings of at least the lower earnings limit.
- Paid at the same rate as statutory paternity pay or shared parental pay.
- One or two week’s statutory pay available, starting on any day of the week.
- Not payable during a week in which the employee does any work for the employer.
An employee cannot contract out of their statutory rights to PBL or SPBP. Where the employer grants an equivalent right to leave (under the employment contract or otherwise), the employee cannot exercise the two rights separately, but can exercise whichever right is more favourable in any given respect. Contractual remuneration paid to the employee will go towards discharging any SPBP liability.
Warning: this news item is not a substitute for legal advice. The information may be incorrect or out of date and does not constitute a definitive or complete statement of the law. This news item is not intended to constitute legal advice in any specific situation. Readers should obtain legal advice and not rely on the information in this article.