Although the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act was passed in 2018, the detail of how the new "day one" right will operate in practice was always intended to be contained in Regulations. The Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 have now been published in draft and are expected to apply if a child under the age of 18 dies, or is still-born after the 24th week of pregnancy, on or after 6 April 2020.
As expected, the Regulations take a wide approach to who will be entitled to leave. Employees who are a child's biological parents or adopters are obviously covered, as are the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement, a biological parent's partner and "parents in fact", such as foster parents.
Employees are entitled either to one or two weeks' leave, which must be taken within 56 weeks of a child's death. An employee does not have to take two weeks' leave consecutively. Minimal notice requirements apply to leave taken in the eight week period immediately after a child's death – the employee has to inform the employer that they are taking parental bereavement leave and how long for before they are due to start work on the day that they want their leave to start. If the employee wants to take leave outside that eight week period they have to give their employer one week's notice.
During leave an employee is entitled to all their existing terms and conditions of employment except in relation to remuneration. Generally an employee is entitled to return to the same job after any period of bereavement leave and the usual rights not to be subjected to a detriment or to be dismissed for taking family related leave apply.
Although parental bereavement leave is a day one right, only employees who have twenty six weeks' service and who have earnings at or above the lower earnings limit will be eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay. Under the Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020 additional notification requirements, with a different time frame, apply. Statutory parental bereavement pay will be paid at the same rate as the lower rate of statutory maternity pay - £151.20 a week (or 90% of average earnings if lower) from April 2020.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.