Introduction of Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

10 August 2021 – updated 22 March 2022
3 minutes
Employment

Bereavement continues to be one of the most prevalent factors affecting employees’ performance at work. Research cited by Cruse Bereavement Care highlights that at any time, one in ten employees are likely to be affected by bereavement. It is always an extremely emotive issue and one that employers should approach with additional sensitivity. This will mitigate detrimental impacts on both the individual employee and indeed the organisation.

Employers in Northern Ireland should be cognisant of legislation in respect of Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay (“SPBLP”). The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill was first introduced in the Northern Ireland Assembly on 1 June 2021, and received Royal Assent on 21 March 2022.

The legislation is set to mirror the related provisions that apply currently in Great Britain. The introduction of SPBLP will offer working parents in Northern Ireland the ability to take paid leave when a child dies, subject to engaging certain eligibility requirements.

In relation to the key provisions of the legislation, a bereaved parent who wishes to take parental bereavement leave following the death of a child must give notice to their employer. The notice does not need to be in writing but must specify:

  • the date of the child’s death;
  • the date the period of leave is to commence; and
  • whether the period of leave is to last one or two weeks’ (the weeks do not need to be taken consecutively).

In terms of pay, employees taking statutory parental bereavement leave are not entitled to their normal salary during this period, however, they will typically be entitled to a statutory payment at a rate set by the government each year.

Employers may wish to review their existing policies in relation to compassionate leave. Indeed, there are many employers that are providing for leave and pay beyond the statutory minimum that the legislation seeks to introduce. In recent months, our office has assisted a number of employers to include a policy of Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay as part of their Staff Handbook.

If you require any assistance in relation to drafting these policies or have any associated queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Employment Law team at MKB Law.

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