The purpose of the proposed Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill (“the Bill”) is to provide a statutory right to paid leave for employed parents who suffer the loss of a child. Previous attempts to introduce paid leave in these circumstances over the past few years have been unsuccessful. However, this Bill - introduced into Parliament in July - has the support of the Government and is likely to become law.
The Bill reflects the Government’s 2017 manifesto commitment to ensure that bereavement support is given to families who lose a baby “including a new entitlement to child bereavement leave”. The Labour Party also committed to consulting on legislation for bereavement leave “after the death of close family members” in its manifesto.
Published on 13 October 2017, the Bill will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to provide for parental bereavement leave for employees, when that leave can be taken and other rights during and after bereavement leave. Amendments will also be made to the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 to provide for statutory parental bereavement pay.
The proposals contained in the Bill can be summarised as follows:
- A “day one” right to at least two weeks’ leave. This will not affect existing family rights such as paternity or maternity leave or pay.
- Parental bereavement leave must be taken within 56 days of the death of the child.
- These rights will apply to employees who have lost a child under 18 (including a still birth after 24 weeks).
- After 26 weeks’ service, employees will be entitled to be paid the weekly statutory flat rate for the leave (as for other family leave pay) or 90% of their average earnings, whichever is lower.
- Employers will be able to recover 92-103% of the statutory bereavement pay from HM Revenue & Customs, depending on the organisation’s level of national insurance contributions.
- If more than one child dies, an employee is entitled to the leave and pay in respect of each child.
- Employees will be protected from detrimental treatment, redundancy and dismissal as a result of having taken bereavement leave.
The Bill’s second reading took place in the House of Commons on 20 October 2017 and, subject to completing all legislative stages, it is expected to become law in 2020. In the meantime, recommendations on measures that employers can consider taking at the present time in these circumstances can be found in our earlier article on the proposed Bill.
The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, introduced into Parliament last month, would entitle employed parents who have lost a child to take statutory paid leave to allow them time to grieve. Although this is a private member’s bill, it is supported by the Government and would meet a Conservative manifesto promise to ensure “bereavement support” for employees – so there is a good chance it will become law in due course.