Last week the Northern Ireland Assembly backed the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Bill. This is such an important piece of legislation which truly has an employee (in this case a bereaved parent) at its centre. No one wants to think about the tragic circumstances that dictate the need for such a Bill, but regretfully the reality is that some parents across NI find themselves in this terrible situation.
It is hard to believe that prior to the introduction of this bill there is no statutory entitlement to paid leave in the tragedy of suffering the loss of a child under 18. This was remedied in Great Britain in April 2020 but the legislation did not apply to NI.
The new Bill provides Northern Irish employees with the same entitlements to leave and pay as in Great Britain.
In summary, following the death or still birth of a child (under the age of 18yrs) eligible employees will be entitled to:
- Two weeks’ parental bereavement leave – this will be a day one employment right
- Payment during leave at the minimum statutory rate – to be eligible employees must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment, by the end of the week before the week of the child’s death.
- Protection from dismissal or detriment as a result of exercising their entitlement.
Following further consultation and agreement on subsequent regulations, these provisions are to be extended to include working parents who suffer the loss of a child through miscarriage.
As an employer in NI, you should make arrangements to be able to facilitate these new employment rights from April 2022. This does not necessarily mean introducing a new policy – as it is a statutory right – but if you already have an existing Compassionate or Bereavement Leave Policy in place you will want to update that to take into account the changes in the statutory provision.
If you are in HRME | The Membership or have previously purchased either the Start-Up Employer Bundle or the Small Employer Bundle, I will be updating the Bereavement Policy and it will be available for you inside the HR Made Easy portal, ready to implement in time for April.
If you are not already a member of HR Made Easy and would like advice on implementing these changes in your small business, just get in touch and book a discovery call.
For 2022 I have set myself the challenge of working with 100 small business owners to implement employee contracts in their business. If you want to be one of my 100 stars, then reach out and book a discovery call here. Or contact me here.
Ways I can help you right now:
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