Consultation begins for Parental Bereavement Bill

The Government has recently announced the beginning of the consultation period for the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill. This is a private member’s bill that has cross-government support. It is next considered in parliament on 11th May 2018 and employers are working to an implementation date of April 2020 for the new pay and leave entitlement.  

At present the Bill applies in Great Britain only and as social security matters are devolved to Northern Ireland there is no indication if it will be extended there at this stage.  

The bill proposes two weeks of paid leave for bereaved parents who lose a child under the age of 18. The statutory parental bereavement pay would initially be available for those with a minimum of 26 weeks’ service, with employers being able to reclaim some or all of the costs of the statutory parental bereavement pay (source 1). Following an amendment during its initial consideration in parliament it will also include parents whose child is stillborn.  

The definition of a bereaved parent, how and when to take the leave and notice and evidence requirements are all key issues at the heart of the current consultation (source 2). 

Some of the complexities being addressed at this stage include: 

  • How step parents and “others who have a long-term relationship with a child which is parental in nature, but who are not the child’s legal parents” will be impacted by the initiative 
  • How to maintain a balance between allowing as much flexibility as possible and providing employers with a degree of certainty as to when the leave and pay can be taken 
  • Whether evidence requirements for this provision should mirror those of existing family leave. 

XpertHR’s recent bereavement leave survey found that ‘the majority of employers already provide paid bereavement leave for employees who lose a loved one, family member or dependant – despite there being no statutory obligation to do so’, notes Personnel Today.  

As a result, it will be interesting to note how the statutory nature of this leave and pay proposal will impact current offerings by employers and the nature of other leave and pay policies already in action. 

I am a member of the statutory payments forum (representing the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) who will work with DWP, HMRC and BEIS to introduce the new statutory payment. After our initial discussions we expect the following to feature in the new rights: 

  • Recovery via the EPS set at 92%/103% as for all other statutory payments 
  • A flat rate in line with the flat rate for SMP etc for the year in question, or 90% of average earnings if that is less, payable for one or two weeks to eligible parents 
  • It must be taken after either 56 days from the date of death of the child(ren) or immediately after the end of the 39 weeks maternity pay period/maternity leave period – whichever is later (ie as weeks 40/41 or 53/54).  
  • It will differ from other statutory payments as pay and leave can be due for each child that dies