On the 6th April 2020, new legislation will be introduced in the UK to enforce paid parental bereavement leave in order to support parents of a child who dies on or after 6th April 2020. The new legislation refers to the Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay Regulations 2020.

Unfortunately, bereavement is something we all face at some point in our lives, but we sadly recognise that the death of a child is among the most devastating events that an individual can ever face. The new legislation coming into force has been put in place to ensure employers provide support to their employees by ensuring bereaved parents can take parental bereavement leave.

Who is entitled to parental bereavement leave?

Most employees with parental responsibility for a child who has passed are entitled to parental bereavement leave regardless of length of employment. Employees are entitled to parental bereavement leave if they fit into one of the following:

  • A parent of a child who has passed away; or
  • A parent who suffers stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy; or
  • A partner of child’s parent, where you live together in a family relationship with the child who has passed away and their parent; or
  • A “parent in fact” of a child who has passed away, which meant the employee for a continuous period of at least 4 weeks before the child died has been living with the child while also having “day-to-day responsibility” for the child (excluding being paid to care for the child); or
  • An “intended parent” of a child who has passed away, i.e. a parent using a surrogate; or
  • A “natural parent” of a child who has passed away whom is named within a court order i.e. where a court orders some contact for an adopted child’s birth parent; or
  • An adoptive parent whose child has passed away

What leave can a bereaved parent take and when?

For each child that has passed away, a bereaved parent is entitled to one or two weeks’ parental leave which can be taken as a single block (two weeks together) or two separate blocks (one week at different times) as individual days cannot be taken.

The leave must be taken within 56 weeks of the date of the death of the employee’s child. The length of this period is to give flexibility to the bereaved parent as they may wish to take leave round sensitive times such as the anniversary of the child’s death or their birthday. They can also use this leave at another date if they happen to already be on another type of leave such as maternity leave or sickness absence.

Notice of parental bereavement leave

Informal notification such as a phone call or email is sufficient to take parental bereavement leave. Leave can be taken straight away and no period of notice is required therefore employees would be encouraged to let their manager/HR know ASAP, preferably before they are due to start work if possible.

Under no circumstances do employees have to provide evidence of their child’s death e.g. certificate of death or letter from child’s doctor. HR professionals and line managers should not request this but can request the employee provides them with the following:

  • The date of the child’s death
  • The date on which they are beginning their parental bereavement leave
  • If they intend to take one or two weeks’ parental bereavement leave

Pay during parental bereavement leave

Employers pay parental bereavement pay at the statutory minimum rate. In order for employees to be eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay, employees must have a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous employment with their employer by the week before the week in which their child passes away, and still be employed by that employer on the day on which the child passed away. Along with this, the employee’s normal weekly earnings in the eight weeks up to the week before the child’s death that are no less than the lower earnings limit for national insurance contribution purposes.

Steps to take as a manager

As a manager you need to be considerate of the bereaving parent during this time and show your greatest support. Any leave and pay that is agreed should be followed up with a letter confirming all details for you and the employee’s records. All terms and conditions of the employee’s contract of employment will not change and the employee has the right to resume working in the same job when they return from leave. In some cases, the employee may be able to return to another job that is more suitable for them.

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team at HR Services Scotland Ltd via our main office number on 0800 652 2610


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