The basics of Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

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Breaking down who’s eligible for Parental Bereavement Leave and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay, and how to administer the benefit.

As of 6 April 2020, Parental Bereavement Leave (PBL) and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP) became a right for employees. PBL is, and SPBP may be, available for parents who have suffered the loss of a child (up to age 18) or a stillbirth (24 weeks or more pregnancy) and is for a period of two weeks.

However, since this benefit came into being during a period of, among other things, lockdowns, furloughs, tiers and reducing percentages of claim-back pay, the new entitlement may have been overlooked or something ‘to get around to’. To help, what follows is information on:

  • the definition of a ‘parent’ when it comes to the benefit
  • eligibility for the leave and for how long
  • eligibility for the pay and how much
  • Administration of the benefit

First, what’s a parent in this instance?

A parent is defined as:

  • the child or baby’s legal guardian, whether biological, adoptive, or born of surrogacy. Note that the biological parent, once an adoption or parental order is in place, loses their eligibility to the benefit. The only exception to this is if there is a contact order in place after adoption.
  • the partner of the child’s or baby’s parent
  • Someone who had day to day responsibility for the child, though not paid for it, and had the child living with them for the four continuous weeks immediately prior to the death
  • a foster parent
  • someone whose expenses were reimbursed for caring for the child or baby
  • someone who was receiving payments under the terms of a will or trust for the child or baby’s care.

Parental Bereavement Leave (PBL)

Since 6 April 2020 this is now a right from day one of employment. The leave period is for two weeks. This can be taken in one block or as two separate weeks. The leave must be taken within 56 weeks of the child’s death. The 56 weeks are split into two periods:

  • From the date of the child’s death or stillbirth to eight weeks after. Here the employee must give notice before the first day of the week(s) wanted as leave.
  • Nine to 56 weeks after the date of the child’s death or stillbirth. Notice must be given at least one week before the start of the week(s) wanted as PBL.

Note however, that the employee can choose not to take PBL at all if they so desire.

Assuming that the employee does take leave, the information required is as follows:

  • the date of death
  • the date they want to start PBL
  • how long they will be taking, either one or two weeks.

The notice can be given informally, no letter or form is required, nor is proof of death.

Employees can cancel PBL or rebook the leave as they need. If the leave starts within eight weeks of the death, then notification of cancellation must be before day one of the planned PBL.

If the leave was due to start nine weeks or later after the death, then the employee must notify the employer no later than one week before the start of the original PBL date.

If the employee is taking other statutory leave, for example statutory maternity leave, the PBL can added to the end of that as long as it all takes place within the 56 week window.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP)

Though PBL is a day-one right, SPBP is not. To claim this the employee must:

  • have been employed for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks prior to the child’s death
  • have received pay at, or above, the Lower Earning Limit (LEL) for eight weeks prior to the child’s death or stillbirth.

The rate of pay is the same as other current statutory parental payments, or 90% average Weekly Earnings (AWE). If the AWE is lower than the current statutory parental payment, then payment will be at the lower level.

Each time an employee applies for SPBP they must give, this time in writing:

  • name
  • dates when SPBP is claimed,
  • date of child’s death or date of stillbirth.

Information regarding eligibility to SPBP, that is, relationship to the child, needs to be given – but only when first applying for SPBP.

Notice of cancellation of SPBP is the same as for PBL.

Administration

As with other benefits, employers can:

  • reclaim 92% of SPBP through the Employment Payment Summary (EPS)
  • claim 103% if eligible for Small Employer’s Relief (employer has paid less than £45,000 in Class 1 national insurance contributions in the last tax year prior to the ‘qualifying week’).

Bear in mind that:

  • Records of dates and amounts of payments and evidence of entitlement must be kept for three years following the end of the tax year in which it was paid.
  • If an employer cannot afford to pay the SPBP then they can apply online to HMRC for an advance. This will need to be paid back through the EPS.
  • These regulations apply to England, Scotland and Wales. Employers in Northern Ireland will need to check as there are different rules for them.

Conclusion

SPL and SPBP have similar eligibility criteria and pay to other parental benefits. However, unlike other parental benefits, the claim is due to a tragic circumstance or circumstances. It is hoped that employers will have very few claims for these benefits, but if they do, that they are handled sensitively and with compassion.

For more information on the policies in England, Scotland and Wales please go to GOV.UK, or NI Direct for information about Northern Ireland.

Julie Hodgskin is a fellow member of AAT, runs a licensed accounting practice and is a technical materials author for CIPP.

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