Legal update | Parental bereavement leave & pay

James Potts - Associate Director of Legal

March 02 2020

From 6th April 2020, parents have the right to paid time off after the loss of a child. Here’s what the new law means for you and your staff, and what you can do to support an employee through a traumatic life event.  

Parental bereavement leave: the facts

Employees now get the right to two weeks of leave if they lose a child under the age of 18. The same rules apply following a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

If your employee has worked for you for 26 weeks or more at the time of death, then they are entitled to paid leave.

We expect the government to set bereavement leave pay at the statutory rate. That means, as of 6th April 2020, you need to give your employee at least £151.20 per week or 90% of their weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

Parents may take bereavement leave at any time during the 56 weeks following the loss of a child. They have the option to split their leave into two blocks and take a week at a time.

The law also applies to others with a duty for parental care. This includes guardians, adopters, foster carers and kinship carers.

Supporting your staff through grief

The UK now offers more parental bereavement leave than any other country. But it’s important to remember that recovery from losing a loved one takes longer than two weeks.

And while some people may choose to return to work quickly, others may be unable to.

Grief can cause or worsen mental ill health issues, and parental bereavement leave does not replace an employee’s right to sick leave due to depression or stress. 

That’s why employers may choose to provide extra support to staff who suffer loss, such as allowing extra time off or paying employees above the statutory minimum rate.

Many businesses also give hands-on help to staff during their return to work. This includes offering employee assistance programmes (EAP) in the workplace.

An EAP gives your people confidential access to health care professionals online, face-to-face or over the phone. Your staff use the service to manage day-to-day issues—like stress or anxiety—or overcome personal problems, like addiction or grief.

Speak to a professional

Caring for your people following bereavement is one of your toughest jobs as an employer. And sadly, it’s something that you’ll face several times throughout your career.

For advice on how to support a member of staff through a period of grief or to discuss how the new laws affect your business, please get in touch. You can contact our HR and wellbeing professionals on 0800 028 2420.

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