An assortment of changes
April 6 2020 introduces an assortment of changes in the realm of employment law, including a “world first” entitlement to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave.
This new legislation, which the government predicts will support 10,000 parents annually, sets the bar for the minimum bereavement leave entitlement for employees.
With eligible employees able to take this leave within the 56 weeks following a child’s death, it allows employees to take leave at incredibly challenging times and when they need it most; immediately following the death and around its first anniversary.
Parental bereavement leave is an automatic entitlement; employees do not require a certain length of service before qualifying for this right.
This leave applies where there has been either the death of a child under the age of 18 or stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
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To be eligible, an employee must be related to the child in any of the following ways:
a) a parent
b) an adoptive parent
c) a person with whom the child has been placed for adoption
d) an adopter
e) an intended parent
f) a parent “in fact” (i.e. they have lived with the child for four continuous weeks ending with the child’s death) or
g) the partner of the child’s parent (parent meaning any of those listed in a – f).
How employees can take this type of leave
Grief affects everyone differently and the new legislation has been drafted in a way which reflects this. Employees can take their paid leave in any of the following ways:
- one week’s leave
- one block of two weeks’ leave or
- two blocks of one week’s leave.
When requesting parental bereavement leave, an employee should notify their employer of:
- the date of the child’s death
- the date they intend their leave to begin, and
- how long their intended period of leave will be (e.g. two weeks),
If an employee’s request is made within 56 days following the date of the child’s death, they must give the notice to their employer either before they are due to start work on their first day of absence or, if this is not possible, as soon as reasonably practical.
If a request is made after 56 days but within 56 weeks following the date of the child’s death, an employee must provide their employer with the notice at least one week before the start of their intended leave.
Parental bereavement leave pay
Employees taking this leave will be paid the lower of either £151.20 (which will moderately increase each tax year, in line with the statutory maternity, paternity, adoption etc. leave pay band) or 90% of their salary.
Top tips for schools
To comply with this leading new legislation, schools should take the following steps:
- review and update their staff handbooks to make reference to the new leave entitlement (a new policy will be incorporated into the ISBA template Staff Handbook and will be published prior to April)
- notify managers of the new statutory entitlement
- ensure that managers are aware that, under this new legislation, employers are not entitled to request a copy of the child’s death certificate as evidence of an employee’s right to the entitlement
- be aware that, under the Data Protection Act 2018 (GDPR), employees have the right to keep details of their child’s death confidential
- be aware that staff who take leave under these regulations may still not be fit to return to work following their period of leave. In such cases, it may be appropriate for staff to take sick leave, annual leave or, at the employer’s discretion, further paid leave.
- mention the statutory entitlement to paid leave in the employee’s contract of employment.