Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay in Northern Ireland ― new employment right coming into force ― 6th April 2022
Who will be entitled?
Employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18 (or those who suffer stillbirth from 24 weeks) will be entitled to 2 weeks of Parental Bereavement Leave as a “day one right”.
Those with at least 26 weeks of continuous service at the date of their child’s death and earnings above the Lower Earnings Limit will also be entitled to Parental Bereavement Pay, paid at the statutory flat weekly rate of £156.66 (or 90% of average earnings, where this is lower). This new employment right in Northern Ireland will mirror the parental bereavement provisions that have been in place in Great Britain since April 2020.
The definition of a ‘bereaved parent’ is guided by the principle that the primary carers of the child should be the focus of the entitlement. The entitlement will apply to the child’s legal parents; individuals with a court order to give them day-to-day responsibility for caring for the child; and primary carers who do not have legal status, such as kinship carers.
In all cases, eligibility will be based on facts that will be clear to both the employee and their employer.
How can the leave and pay be taken?
Eligible parents will be able to take both the leave and pay as either a single block of one or two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week taken at different times.
The employee will have 56 weeks from the date of their child’s death in which to take the entitlement so as to allow parents to take the leave (and pay) at important moments, such as anniversaries, if they wish.
What notices will be required?
No prior notice will be required for leave taken very soon after the death. This will apply for a set number of weeks, in recognition that employees are likely to need to take leave at little or no notice. Employees will, however, be required to tell their employer that they are absent from work ― informal notification will be acceptable.
If leave is taken at a later point in time, a notice requirement will apply. This will be the usual notice requirement for leave in place between the employer and employee.
Prior notice will be required for Parental Bereavement Pay irrespective of when the pay is taken. This is in order to give employers time to process the request.
What will the evidence requirements be?
No evidence requirements will be in place for Parental Bereavement Leave. In order to be eligible for Parental Bereavement Pay, a bereaved parent will need to provide minimal evidence in the form of a written self-declaration that he/she meets any eligibility conditions for pay, together with confirmation of the name of the person claiming, and the date of the child’s death.
Information on this new entitlement will also be provided on NI Business Info and NI Direct websites in due course.