1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

Parental bereavement leave and pay: scheme starts to take shape

In September, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 received Royal Assent (as we reported here).  The Act really just enables the government to introduce regulations and it has now published its response to the consultation, which took place earlier this year, giving some indication of how the new scheme will operate when it comes into force in, we expect, 2020.
Read more »
Parental bereavement leave and pay: scheme starts to take shape

A quick guide to family leave and pay entitlements in the UK

The latest announcement from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that they are expecting their first child and the recent return of the Duchess of Cambridge from her maternity break demonstrate that the Royal Family, similarly to other British parents, is not a stranger to tackling a wide range of parental responsibilities along with their official duties.

This prompted us to set out the main entitlements in relation to family leave and pay available to working parents under the UK laws.

Provided that the employee meets specific eligibility criteria, they have the right to the following:

  • Statutory Maternity Leave (SML): Women can take up to 52 weeks of SML. It is made up of Ordinary Maternity Leave (the first 26 weeks) and Additional Maternity Leave (weeks 27 to 52). SML is not compulsory apart from the first two weeks after the baby is born (or four weeks if the woman works in a factory). Whilst on SML women can claim:
    • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP): It is paid for up to 39 weeks and is 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks followed by the lower of £145.18 or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks.
    • Maternity Allowance: It is payable by the government and applies to those employees who do not qualify for SMP.
    • Company enhanced maternity pay: Many employers voluntarily offer more generous maternity pay arrangements which eligible employees can claim.

Women adopting a child or having a child through surrogacy are not entitled to SML but can get Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay instead.

  • Shared Parental Leave (ShPL): This enables parents having a baby or adopting a child to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay. ShPL is paid at the lower rate of SMP (i.e.£145.18 a week or 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower).
  • Paternity Leave and Pay: Paternity Leave is a period of either one or two consecutive weeks that fathers (or partners) can take off from work to care for their baby or child. The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £145.18 or 90 per cent of the employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
  • Parental leave: This is unpaid. It can be taken for up to 18 weeks to look after a child up to their 18th birthday. Unless agreed otherwise with the employer it can only be taken up to four weeks for each child in a year.
  • Time off for dependants: Employees are allowed time off to deal with emergency situations (e.g. a hospital appointment) involving a dependant. A dependant could be a spouse, partner, child, grandchild, parent, or someone who depends on the employee for care. It is unpaid unless the employer agrees otherwise. There is no set amount of time that can be requested by the employee to deal with emergency situations although it should to be exercised in a reasonable manner, which usually equates to one or two days.
  • Flexible working: Employees who have 26 weeks’ continuous employment are entitled to make a request for flexible working. Flexible working can include a wide range of options, such as reduction of hours, job-sharing, working from home, working compressed hours, flexitime or term-time working.

Many employers recognise that the statutory entitlements are no longer sufficient in many sectors to attract a skilled and qualified workforce. In the circumstances they are prepared to offer their employees a wide range of family-friendly benefits, enhanced levels of family leave and pay, as well as flexibility in their working arrangements. No matter what option the employer chooses, it is important that they have clear family policies in place outlining the relevant process and eligibility criteria and that those policies are applied consistently across the organisation.

A quick guide to family leave and pay entitlements in the UK

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 receives royal stamp of approval

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 was given royal assent on 13 September 2018, having started out in July 2017 as a Private Member’s Bill subsequently supported by the government.

The Act will offer, as a day one right, two weeks’ leave to any employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees will also be eligible for statutory bereavement pay if they meet certain criteria, including that they have been employed for at least 26 weeks, ending in the week of the child’s death, and have given the correct notice.

Bereavement leave must be taken within 56 days of the child’s death and parents who have lost more than one child will be entitled to take leave in respect of each child.

The Act provides that regulations will be made in due course, setting out how parental bereavement leave and pay will be taken, and the eligibility criteria. This will include details of notice requirements, whether leave can be taken in separate blocks and whether employees who are not the biological parent of a child (but who have been significantly involved in caring for the child, such as step-parents) will also qualify for leave and pay.

The rights provided by the Act are expected to come into force in April 2020, but this will be confirmed by the regulations.

Under current legislation, employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to make arrangements following the death of a dependant. However, the cases on this limit the amount of time off to one or two days at most, save in exceptional circumstances. The change in law is therefore the first time in the UK that specific bereavement leave has been made both a legal right for up to two weeks and paid.

Employers may already have in place a policy on bereavement. Acas has published a  guide to managing bereavement in the workplace, which is available at http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4977

After the regulations have been published, employers should consider reviewing any existing policy or putting one in place, and should ensure that managers and HR are trained on the new rules.

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 receives royal stamp of approval

Only 6% of Brits work 9am-5pm

A recent survey from YouGov has found that only 6% of Brits now work 9am-5pm and nearly half of those surveyed worked flexibly through job-sharing flexitime or compressed hours. The study shows that the most preferred working hours are 8am-4pm (chosen by 37% of the respondents) with another 21% saying they would prefer to start work even earlier at 7am and finish at 3pm.
Read more »
Only 6% of Brits work 9am-5pm

Publicise parental leave policies

A study conducted by the Liberal Democrats has revealed that only 4 UK government departments display their parental leave and pay policies on their external websites. This is despite the fact that the government has launched a new "Share the joy" campaign, intended to encourage more parents to utilise shared parental leave, and is spending £1.5 million to increase awareness.
Read more »
Publicise parental leave policies

The equality of parenting

In the week after Father's Day in the UK, insurance provider Aviva commissioned a report into Shared Parental Leave (SPL) polling 1,000 fathers and 1,000 mothers with children aged 16 and under nationwide. Despite the legislation on SPL being in force since 2015 and the recent government campaign "Share the Joy", intended to raise awareness (which we talked about here), half of working fathers haven't heard of SPL. This is particularly disappointing as nine out of 10 parents are reported as believing mums and dads should be given equal parental leave.
Read more »
The equality of parenting

Can flexible working improve the gender pay gap?

One of the biggest barriers to gender equality and pay parity is a continuing resistance by employers to embrace agile working. A recent joint study from flexible working specialists, Timewise, and Deloitte set out a five step plan to help employers establish and implement new working cultures with the aim of improving pay parity between men and women.
Read more »
Can flexible working improve the gender pay gap?

No requirement to enhance pay for shared parental leave

We blogged in June last year about the employment tribunal claim of Ali -v- Capita Customer Management Ltd where Mr Ali was successful in his claim for direct sex discrimination. Female employees at Capita were entitled to 14 weeks’ full pay on maternity leave whereas fathers were only entitled to two weeks’ full pay on paternity and shared parental leave. Mr Ali's wife was advised to return to work early from maternity leave after being diagnosed with post natal depression. Mr Ali asked Capita whether he could take leave instead and was told he could take shared parental leave on statutory pay. The Tribunal found that this was direct sex discrimination.
Read more »
No requirement to enhance pay for shared parental leave

A busy month for discrimination law

It’s been a busy few weeks for judgments; we round up the most recent discrimination cases:

When is cancer a disability?

What happens if an employer does not know an employee is pregnant when deciding to dismiss her but finds out before the dismissal takes effect?

Was forfeiture of LTIP awards unlawful age discrimination?

Click here to read the round up.

A busy month for discrimination law

UK Employment Law Round-up – March 2018

In this issue we look at some of the key employment law developments that have been taking place over the past month. In our case law review we take a look at ‘deemed disabilities’ under the Equality Act following a recent EAT judgment. We also look at what happens if an employer does not know an employee is pregnant when deciding to dismiss but finds out before the dismissal takes effect. The impact of the new taxation of termination payments coming into force from 6 April 2018 and the sponsor licence reporting process to be mindful of when involved in mergers and acquisitions are also covered.

https://www.dentons.com/en/insights/newsletters/2018/march/29/uk-employment-law-roundup/uk-employment-law-round-up-march-2018

UK Employment Law Round-up – March 2018