Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay legislation for Northern Ireland

What is parental bereavement leave?

From 6 April 2020, all employed parents in England, Wales and Scotland have the right to two weeks leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or experience a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of their length of service. Employed parents may also qualify for two weeks statutory bereavement pay. Further information is available in our factsheet Employment Rights for Working Parents.

When this legislation was announced in February 2020, Economy Minister Diane Dodds committed to introducing similar legislation as soon as possible in Northern Ireland, referring to the new laws as “sensible and compassionate”.

Consultation on proposals

In a welcome announcement today (21 May 2020), the Department for the Economy has revealed that it plans to consult on parental bereavement leave and pay legislation.

The Minister said: “I believe that employment law should be compassionate and supportive of parents who find themselves facing this distressing situation.

“Since taking office I have been very keen to put in place provision for Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay legislation in Northern Ireland so that parents can access this support if they need it. Under my proposals workers who suffer the loss of a child will have a statutory entitlement to two weeks’ leave and, in most cases, a statutory payment.

“After securing the agreement of the Executive, and subject to the views of my departmental Committee, I will be launching a public consultation to seek views on my proposal. 

“The views of stakeholders and the wider public are very important and I want to make sure we take them into account as we commence the legislative process.”

The consultation will be published on the Department for the Economy website and NI Direct.

Welcome announcement

This is an important and welcome development. The death of a child will have a devastating impact on any parent. Legislating to ensure eligible working parents can have paid time off will not lessen their grief, but will at least ease the pressure of potentially having to return to work after a few days or take holiday or sick leave.

We will be responding to the consultation when it opens, and will keep you updated as to its progress.