This brand new employment right was introduced in April 2020, at a time when the world was in the initial grips of Covid-19 so may well have gone under the radar of many employers. This year, Baby Loss Awareness Week ran from 9 – 15 October so we’re taking a look at parental bereavement leave and what it entails.
Who can take parental bereavement leave
All employees are entitled to take two weeks of leave if their child, who is under the age of 18, dies. It can also be taken when an employee experiences a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
If a stillbirth occurs before that point, there will be no entitlement to parental bereavement leave. Employees who need time off will therefore be likely to take sickness absence.
It applies from day one of employment, so there is no service qualification attached.
How leave can be taken
Leave can be taken either as one single block of two weeks’ leave, or two separate blocks of one week’s leave.
Employees have 56 weeks following the death of their child in which to take this leave. This length of leave has been adopted to allow employees to take leave at the first anniversary of the child’s death, if they choose to.
If an employee is to take the leave within 8 weeks of their child’s death or stillbirth, they will need to let their employer know by the first day of leave. In practice, the notice requirements are similar to those which most employers expect when an employee is to call in sick. The same short notice provisions apply if the employee wants to change the date on which they want to start leave.
If leave is to be taken later than 8 weeks since the death, employees have to provide their employer with at least one week’s notice to take the leave, although employers would be free to accept a shorter period of notice if they wish.
Employees can give notice on the telephone, leave a voicemail, send a text message or an email.
Employees who have at least 26 weeks’ service with their employer in the week of the death or stillbirth will be entitled to receive statutory parental bereavement pay, which will be paid at the same rate of other family leave payments (currently £151.97 per week). In addition, the employee will need to earn at least the lower earnings limit and have complied with the notice requirements.
Interaction with other leave
Taking parental bereavement leave does not affect entitlement to maternity and paternity leave.