The government has announced that parents will be entitled to bereavement leave from 6 April 2020 (subject to parliamentary approval). Employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or who suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, will be entitled to two weeks’ leave. This leave can be taken in one block or as two separate weeks. This is a ‘day one’ right, with no need for a period of continuous employment to qualify for it.
Employees who have been employed for at least 26 weeks and whose average earnings exceed the lower earnings limit (currently £118 for 2019/2020) will also qualify for statutory parental bereavement pay (SPBP). SPBP will be calculated in the same way as paternity pay, which is £148.68 for 2019/2020, or 90 per cent of average weekly earnings if that is lower. Although many parents may choose to take this leave immediately after the death of a child, the regulations are likely to give parents up to a year to take this leave.
This right is the most generous in the world in relation to child bereavement, with only a few countries offering any bereavement leave at all. Most employers are already compassionate and flexible when an employee suffers such a devastating loss. The law is simply catching up with good practice.
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