The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 came into force on 6 April 2020.
Employed bereaved parents of a child under 18 (including a child that is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy) will be entitled to 2 weeks leave. They will qualify for statutory bereavement pay if they have 26 weeks service and earn more than the lower earnings limit. A child's biological or adoptive parents qualify for leave as will others who have a primary caring responsibility for a child or who are substantially acting as a child's parents (e.g. foster carers).
Employees can take leave flexibly, either as a single week, a single block of two weeks or two single periods of a week. Parents will have up to 56 weeks from the date of a child's death to take leave, allowing them to take it when they need it most. Notice requirements will also be flexible, with no notice required to take leave shortly after a child's death. Employees will need to give at least one weeks' notice to take leave at a later date. Parents will have to provide a written declaration of entitlement to leave only if an employer asks for one, but will have to provide a written declaration of eligibility for parental bereavement pay in order to qualify.
Employers should review their bereavement policy. This might be difficult for employers right now as they are deluged with Covid-19 requirements, but they should not ignore this issue. A well drafted policy must balance the needs of bereaved parents against ensuring continuity during an employee's absence.
To discuss this or any other employment related matter, contact us.