In our 19 September alert, we reported that The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 had received Royal Assent. The new rights will come into force during 2020 and mean that, for the first time, employers will be under a statutory obligation to provide leave for grieving parents.
The Act amends the Employment Rights Act to provide that all employed parents will have a day-one right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Statutory parental bereavement pay will be paid at the same rate as other forms of family-related leave (currently £145.18 a week), subject to meeting eligibility criteria, including that the employee must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment.
Earlier in 2018, the government consulted on the details of the rights and it has now issued its consultation response, which includes further information about how the new right will work:
- Eligibility is to be widened beyond parents to all primary carers for children, including adopters, foster parents and guardians. It will also cover more informal groups, such as kinship carers, who may be a close relative or family friend who has assumed responsibility for the care of the child in the absence of the parents.
- Leave can be taken either in one block (of one or two weeks) or as two separate blocks of one week.
- Leave and pay can be taken within a 56-week window from the child’s death to allow time for important moments such as anniversaries.
- Notice requirements will be flexible so that leave can be taken without prior notice very soon after the child’s death. If leave is taken after that initial period, a notice requirement will apply.
- Employers will not be entitled to request a copy of the death certificate to use as evidence. Whilst the government is still considering other evidential requirements, it has confirmed that, in relation to statutory parental bereavement pay, employees will be required to provide a written declaration confirming that they meet the eligibility requirements.
The implementing legislation, when published, will provide more detailed information and confirm the date during 2020 when the new rights come into force. Employers will then need to review and update their policies to reflect the new entitlement.