The UK Government has announced that a new right to two weeks’ parental bereavement will come into force from 6 April 2020.
The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations (which have been laid before Parliament and are awaiting final approval) implement a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks unpaid leave for all employed parents following the loss of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of their length of service.
Parents will be able to take bereavement leave at any time within a period of 56 weeks after the child’s death, either as a single block of two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week – enabling them to take leave when they most need it, which could be immediately after the death or over the first anniversary. The Regulations set out a two-tiered approach to notice requirements, with no obligation on the employee to provide notice of their intention to take bereavement leave if the leave is being taken within 56 days (i.e. 8 weeks) after the child’s death, and an obligation to provide at least one week’s notice if the leave is being taken after this initial 56 day period. Employees will not be required to provide evidence of their right to the entitlement.
A child’s biological or adoptive parents will qualify for bereavement leave, as will those who have parental responsibility for a child such as foster carers and guardians.
Parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit (currently £118 per week) will also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay (SPBP). This will be paid at the rate of £148.68 per week (for 2019/20) or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.