The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill received Royal Assent on 13 September 2018. The Act will come into force in April 2020 and will create a statutory right to time off work for employed parents, with pay where eligibility requirements are met, following the loss of a child. The Act will be supported by Regulations which will implement the key details of the Government’s policy on parental bereavement leave and pay. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) launched a public consultation on what the Regulations will need to cover on 28 March 2018. The public consultation closed on 8th June 2018. On 2nd November, the Government published their response to the consultation. Summarised below are the governments decisions:
The Regulations will use a broad definition of a “bereaved parent”
Under the Act, the question of who qualifies as a ‘bereaved parent’ for the purposes of accessing parental bereavement leave and pay must be defined in the Regulations. The Government has stated that the specification of who is eligible should be someone who is a ‘primary carer’, and whose relationship with the child is ‘parental’ in nature. This definition will include all legal parents, people who are not the child’s legal parents but who have a ‘parental’ relationship with the child which is recognised in law and individuals such as foster parents, kinship carers and others who are acting as the child’s ‘parent’.
56 weeks to use leave entitlement
The Act provides for parents to take a minimum of two weeks of parental bereavement leave and pay within a period of at least 56 days (8 weeks), beginning with the date of the death of a child, and enables the Secretary of State to make provision for a longer period of time over which the leave and pay can be taken in the Regulations. The Government has decided to extend the period within which leave can be taken to 56 weeks.
Parental bereavement leave and pay can be taken as a single block, or as 2 separate weeks
The Government has decided that the leave can be taken either as a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of one week (the employee can take one single week if they wish).
Flexible notice requirements
The Government intends to take a two-tiered approach in the Regulations regarding the requirement to provide notice. No notice will be required for leave taken ‘very soon’ after the date of the child’s death. This will apply for a set period of weeks after the death, in order to allow employees to choose whether they want to take the leave or remain at work. If an employee chooses to take the leave after the initial period following the death, notice will be required. The Government proposes that the employee will be required to give at least one week’s notice to their employer before taking parental bereavement leave.
Evidence requirements to mirror existing requirements used for other family leave and pay rights.
The Government has stated that the evidence requirements will mirror, where appropriate, the evidence requirements used in other family leave and pay rights, recognising the special circumstances that apply to bereaved parents. They have proposed that a declaration of eligibility will only be required when the employer requests it, as far as is practicable, to minimise the burden on the employee. The Government has not made it clear whether it would be appropriate to request a written declaration in all circumstances, but are clear that an employee who needs to take time off work to grieve in the initial period after the death of their child will not need to provide a written declaration confirming their entitlement before taking time off work.
For existing family leave pay rights, the employee is required to provide their employer with a written declaration confirming that they meet the eligibility requirements for the pay, irrespective of whether the employer asks for it. The Government also intends to mirror this arrangement for parental bereavement pay, giving a reasonable time frame for the employee to provide the declaration. This will not interfere with the employee’s right to take parental bereavement leave.
The Regulations are due to be released before the Act comes into force in April 2020.