Parental Bereavement Leave: Changes to prepare for

Currently, there is no specific right to leave or pay following a bereavement. However, employers need to comply with the following obligations:

  • From day one of employment, employees must be given ‘reasonable’ time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant..
  • If an employee suffers a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, she is permitted to take statutory maternity leave and pay. The father is also still entitled to his paternity leave and pay. Similarly, if the child dies in infancy, the parents are entitled to any remaining leave.

This is what is likely to change in legislation from 2020:

  • Employers will have to offer all employed parents, irrespective of their length of service, the right to 2 weeks’ bereavement leave if they lose a child under the age of 18.
  • The employee will have to take the leave within 56 days of the child’s death.
  • If an employee has at least 26 weeks’ continuous service and their average earnings meet the lower earnings limit employers will have to offer paid parental bereavement leave. This will be at the statutory rate, currently £145.18 a week or 90% of weekly average earnings, whichever is lower.
  • Employers will be entitled to reclaim statutory parental bereavement pay from HM Revenue & Customs.
  • If more than one child dies, the employer will have to give the parent two weeks’ leave (and pay if applicable) in respect of each child.
  • Employers will not be permitted to dismiss an employee or subject them to any other detrimental treatment because they took, or asked to take, parental bereavement leave.

Most employers already offer paid compassionate leave as a matter of good practice, so the legislation will largely provide certainty about what’s an acceptable minimum length of leave and level of pay.

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