Owner Kate Upcraft Consultancy Ltd
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Act introduces new support for bereaved parents

From 6 April 2020, grieving parents and primary carers will be entitled to statutory parental bereavement leave and bereavement pay where eligibility conditions are met.

20th Nov 2019
Owner Kate Upcraft Consultancy Ltd
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The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 introduces a new employment right: parental bereavement leave (PBL) and an entitlement to statutory parental bereavement pay (SPBP) for any qualifying parent whose child (under the age of 18) dies or who suffers a still-birth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. These rights are due to come into effect where the death of a child, children or stillbirth occurs from 6 April 2020.

Although the Act was passed on 13 September 2018, the underpinning regulations have not been published. Time is running out for software developers to build the necessary functionality based on those unpublished regulations.

Background

At present, when a child dies primary carers have no statutory right to pay and leave. It is understood that this new legislation came about as an employee was refused time off to attend his own child’s funeral. There are clearly still rogue employers around in the 21st century.

‘Primary carers’ covers a broad spectrum of adults who have had a relationship with the child. As well as the child's parents, the term includes adopters, foster parents and guardians. The carer (if not the biological parent or other primary carer) must have had the child living with them, in their own home, continuously for a period of four weeks ending with the date of death, and they have had day-to-day responsibility for the child’s care during that time – they will be known as a ‘parent-in-fact’.

Leave entitlement

Primary carers will be entitled to up to two weeks’ leave taken as two single weeks or one block of two weeks. Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service and average earnings at or above the lower earnings limit (£118 pw for 2019/20) will receive paid leave, other staff will be entitled to unpaid leave.

Leave must be taken within a 56-week window from the child’s death so it can be added on to the end of maternity leave, but there is no obligation to take the full entitlement. This will allow parents time off, for example on the anniversary of the death, or what would have been the child’s birthday.

Naturally, in such a sensitive situation, employers are expected to take a light-touch approach to notice and evidence. The employer can ask for 28 days’ notice for taking leave but it will not be a requirement. A simple notification form will be provided, but evidence in the form of a death certificate will not be required.

Bereavement pay

This new statutory pay will predominantly follow the same administration rules as all other parental statutory payments and will be treated as earnings for tax and NIC purposes.

SPBP will be similar to maternity pay in this regard. It will be paid at the same statutory flat weekly rate as applies for SMP (£148.68 for 2019/20), or 90% of average earnings, where this is lower. Recovery will be at 92% or 103% as for other statutory payments and this will be recovered by reporting the amount on the Employer Payment Summary (EPS).

Current guidance indicates that SPBP may start on any day of the week and can be aligned with pay periods in the same manner as all other statutory payments. Two key points to note are the fact that multiple employees will be able to qualify for entitlement in respect to the same child and multiple entitlements will arise if, for example, siblings die at separate times. 

HMRC will publish an SPBP calculator and guidance on manual calculations. HMRC will also update is Basic PAYE Tools (BPT) software to incorporate SPBP.

Records

Records of SPBP will have to be kept for three years after the end of the tax year in which the employer made the payments. The required details will include:

  • payments made and recovered
  • periods for which SPBP has been paid
  • name of employee
  • date of child’s death or stillbirth
  • employee’s written declaration that qualifying conditions have been met.

If the employer did not pay SPBP to the employee in respect of a week that was within the employee’s period of payment, guidance states that the employer must record that week along with the reason no payment was made.

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