The draft Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 have now been laid before Parliament and are set to come into force on 6 April 2020.
Under the new law:
– employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, will be entitled to take up to two weeks statutory leave (note that this is a “day 1 right” i.e. there is no prior service requirement);
– the leave can be taken either as one block or as two separate blocks of one week each;
– the definition of “parent” is wide – it includes biological parents, adopters, intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement, a biological parent’s partner and foster parents;
– the leave must be taken within 56 weeks of a child’s death;
– if an employee wishes to take the leave in the eight week period following the child’s death, he/she simply has to inform their employer before they start work on the day they wish their leave to start. However, if the employee wishes to take the leave after the initial eight week period, he/she must give one week’s notice;
– employees remain entitled to all of their existing terms and conditions of employment during the leave period, except for remuneration;
– employees with at least 26 weeks’ service, who meet minimum earnings criteria, will also qualify for statutory parental bereavement pay (which is paid at the same rate as statutory paternity pay).
Employers may wish to put in place a specific policy to deal with the new right, or alternatively may wish to update existing policies on compassionate leave.
Employers may also wish to consider paying full pay for some or all of the bereavement leave period or allowing the leave to be taken more flexibly, although there is no obligation to do so.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss these issues in more detail or if we can assist with appropriate policy wording.