From 6 April 2020, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 will come into force which means that parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18, or have a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory parental bereavement leave (“SPBL”). The right exists from the first day of employment. Furthermore, employees with six months’ service will also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay during such period of leave (“SPBP”).
Parents are entitled to take the leave as either a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of one week each to be taken within 56 weeks of their child’s death. If more than one child passes away, the right to SPBL and SPBP applies in respect of each child. The right is also extended to adults with parental responsibility, i.e. adoptive parents, individuals who are fostering to adopt, legal guardians and foster parents.
Parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit (£118 per week for 2019/20) will also be entitled to SPBP, paid at the rate of £148.68 per week (for 2019/20), or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is lower.
This is a welcome improvement to current practices where bereavement leave is handled on a discretionary basis, not a statutory one. Furthermore, although the Employment Rights Act 1996 enables employees to take time off in an emergency situation, including the death of a dependant, there isn’t currently a statutory right to be paid for bereavement leave.
The introduction of bereavement leave in statute provides all employees with enhanced rights from day one of employment, which also differs from other aspects of employment law such as unfair dismissal (where you need two years’ service to bring a claim) and is in line with discrimination and automatically unfair dismissal etc. legislation.
In order to prepare for the implementation of the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, employers will need to review and most likely update their policies in order to comply with the new legislation.
Should you require any assistance or want to find out more about the Parental Bereavement, please do not hesitate to contact our Employment Law and HR team or get in touch on 0161 475 7676.