27 February 2020

Parental Bereavement Leave

A new workplace right for bereaved parents will come into force from 6 April 2020.

Although many employers do offer some form of bereavement leave, there is currently no legal obligation to provide paid time off for grieving parents. As matters stand, employees only have the right to "reasonable" time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. This will change from 6 April 2020.

The new Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations will entitle working parents who have lost a child under the age of 18 or suffered a stillbirth (from 24 weeks of pregnancy) to take two weeks of parental bereavement leave, irrespective of their length of service. Additionally, subject to satisfying certain conditions, they will be eligible to receive statutory parental bereavement pay (£151.20 per week or 90% of their normal weekly earnings if lower) while they are on leave.

The new rules are the most generous offer of parental bereavement pay and leave anywhere in the world and the UK government estimates that 10,200 parents per year will be eligible for parental bereavement leave, of whom 9,300 will be eligible for parental bereavement pay.

Employers are advised to review and, where appropriate, modify their current policies and practices to ensure that they reflect the new legislation. Generally, employers managing grieving parents should consider any wider support which they might be able to offer, recognising that this will be a very stressful time. It is important for employers to speak with employees to understand what help they can provide. For example, putting in place flexible working arrangements and/or arranging for other staff members to look after more demanding aspects of their role (on a temporary basis) and/or encouraging the employee to contact any employee assistance programme could all be helpful.

The UK government has committed to providing guidance on the new right ahead of 6 April, but in the meantime, employers can refer to the Acas guidance regarding time off for bereavement.

If you would like further guidance or advice in relation to this area, please contact Rosie Moore or Joe Beeston in our Employment team for assistance.

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