Shared Parental Leave for Bereaved Partners: a day-one right?

A Private Members’ Bill, set to make it easier for a bereaved father or partner to take time off when a mother dies in or shortly after childbirth, is expected to be considered further in the House of Commons at the end of this month.

Current: Shared parental leave – after 26 weeks

A father or partner must have worked for 26 weeks to be eligible to take shared parental leave (SPL). In cases where a mother dies in or shortly after childbirth, this leaves some bereaved single parents with limited support to enable them to manage their family circumstances at a difficult time.

Proposed: Shared parental leave for bereaved partners – a day-one right

As currently drafted, the Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill (the Bill) would require the Secretary of State to make regulations to remove the usual condition that a father or partner must have 26 weeks’ continuous service to be entitled to take SPL in cases where a mother dies. In such cases, the right to SPL would become a ‘day-one right’. It does not, however, make any provision to remove the eligibility requirement for statutory shared parental pay.

The Bill enjoyed cross-party support and passed its second reading in the House of Commons on 26 January 2024. 

Next steps

The Bill will now proceed to the Committee stage. A date for this stage has yet to be announced, but it is expected to be later this month. 

On 5 March 2024, Kevin Hollinrake MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Trade, issued an instruction that, during the Committee stage, the Committee may make amendments to the Bill to extend its scope to include cases where the person with whom a child is expected to be placed for adoption or an applicant for a parental order in surrogacy cases, dies.

Mr Hollinrake also confirmed that the government is analysing SPL and paternity leave and will seek to broaden the scope of the Bill to include paternity leave.

For more information about this article or any other aspect of people services reimagined, download our App for Apple or Android, and contact your integrated HR, employment law and health & safety team at AfterAthena today.