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The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill

The government’s promise to provide ‘bereavement support’ did not seem to start well when The Bereavement Support Payment Regulations 2017 made real the changes first announced in the Pensions Act 2014.

Ian   Holloway
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Ian   Holloway
TwitterLinkedIn

The government’s promise to provide ‘bereavement support’ did not seem to start well when The Bereavement Support Payment Regulations 2017 made real the changes first announced in the Pensions Act 2014.

 

The widely criticised regulations created a new ‘Bereavement Support Payment’ for people in the United Kingdom whose spouse or civil partner died on or after the date these regulations came into force on 6 April 2017. The new allowance replaced the bereavement allowance, widow’s pension, widowed mother’s allowance, widowed parent’s allowance and bereavement payment that were previously available as Social Security benefits.

 

While this did not directly impact on employers, they should always have been mindful of the good practice guidance from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in Great Britain and the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) in Northern Ireland.

 

What will impact employers is the recently-introduced Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill that will apply in Great Britain only. It concerns the amendment of the Employment Rights Act 1996 by inserting a new statutory right to pay and time off when ‘parents’ suffer the bereavement of a child. Which brings to question who is a parent and who is a child. Should the bill proceed, future legislation will determine this. However, it is all to do with the ‘relationship with the deceased child’ who must be under 18. Given that we will have to wait for secondary legislation to determine eligibility, it is worth looking at the amount of bereavement pay and leave. In this regard, the rules seem to mirror that for Statutory Paternity Pay (and Leave):

 

  • The entitlement to Statutory Bereavement Leave is dependent on length of service and must be taken within 56 days of the child’s death. Regulations may prescribe that two people (parents) can take the leave for the death of one child. The employee will maintain employment rights before, during and after the leave and must not suffer detriment of discrimination as a result of taking it. The statutory entitlement will be for two weeks.
  • The entitlement to Statutory Bereavement Pay is dependent on entitlement to leave. Where there is entitlement, payment will be made at 90% of Average Weekly Earnings or the current rate (£139.58), whichever is lower.

 

The above does seem to support both the promise to support bereavement at the same time as meeting the pledge on enhancing rights and protections in the workplace.

 

Although this is a Private Members Bill, it seems to have cross-party and ministerial support. Plus, the fact that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will be engaging with groups including employers over the summer suggests that amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996 are due.

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The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill
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