The UK government has confirmed that working parents, and adults with parental responsibility, who suffer the devastating loss of a child will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory leave. Parental Bereavement Leave (PBL) will be introduced on 6 April 2020 and will apply to all employers and businesses, regardless of their size.
PBL is available for any employee (not agency workers or self-employed contractors) if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy with no minimum period of service, therefore the right is applicable from day one of employment.
The leave may be taken in complete weeks either as one period of two weeks or two separate periods of one week. The leave can be taken within 56 weeks, notably covering the first anniversary of the child’s death.
Where employed parents meet the necessary conditions, they will also have a right to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP). Parents must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer and be earning more than the lower earning limit to be eligible for SPBP. The rate to be paid will be £148.68 per week (for 2019/20) or 90% of average weekly earnings where this is lower.
The government has confirmed SPBP will be administered by employers, just like other types of family-related statutory payments eg. Statutory Paternity Pay.
A 2018 XpertHR survey found that the current average paid bereavement leave entitlement offered by companies is five days. We would therefore recommend with 6 April 2020 drawing near, employers should review and update their policies to comply with the new law. We would encourage employers to approach this matter both compassionately and sensitively.
Acas already have some practical guidance in relation to the new laws concerning PBL, which you may find useful.
Should you have any questions in relation to PBL or SPBP please get in touch with the Partner who looks after your affairs or contact our dedicated Payroll team on 01289 306688.