The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 receives Royal Assent

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 came into effect on 6 April 2022 and received Royal Assent as of Friday 21 October 2022. This is a welcome development as the Act allows working parents to avail of two weeks’ parental bereavement leave (“PBL”) following the death of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth (from 24 weeks of pregnancy).

Employees eligible for Parental Bereavement Leave include the following:

  • A parent or intended parent of a child that has died (this includes surrogacy);
  • A parent who has lived with the child in their own home and had the day-to-day responsibility for the deceased’s child’s care (and this must be for a continuous period of at least four weeks ending with the date of the child’s death);
  • A parent who is the child’s “natural parent” as named under the Adoption and Children Act 2022;
  • A person with whom the child has been placed for adoption, for so long as that placement has not been “disrupted”;
  • An adopter who the child was living with and who has received official notification in respect of the child;
  • The partner of the child’s parent (a partner being defined as a person who lives with the eligible person and the child in an ‘enduring family relationship’ but is not the eligible person’s parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt or uncle).

Whilst all employees are entitled to take Parental Bereavement Leave, irrespective of service, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (“SPBP”) will only be available to those employees who have been continuously employed with their employer for 26 weeks prior to the death of the child and who have earned at least the lower earnings limit for the past eight weeks (current rate is £123 per week).  Eligible employees will be entitled to payment of £156.66 or 90% of their normal weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Those employees who do not meet the requirements, will be entitled to 2 weeks’ unpaid Parental Bereavement Leave.

Parental Bereavement Leave can be taken by the eligible employee at any time within the 56 week period commencing on the date the child died. This allows for eligible employees to take time off at difficult times, for example, the anniversary of the child’s death or around the time of the child’s birthday. The legislation also confirms that paid miscarriage leave will be introduced for employees in Northern Ireland by 6 April 2026.

In light of the recently enacted legislation, we would encourage all employers to update their policies and procedures to include a specific policy on Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay.

Should you require advice or assistance in relation to any of the above please do get in touch with Jan Cunningham, David Mitchell or Niamh McMonagle in our Employment Team.