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The Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill 2023-24 is a Private Member’s Bill, Bill 19 of the 2023-24 session. It was introduced on 6 December 2023 by Labour MP Chris Elmore who came second in the Private Members’ Bill ballot for the 2023-24 session.

The Bill is listed for second reading on Friday 26 January 2024.

Background

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) allow the birth parent (or adopting parent) to curtail the amount of Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance (or Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay) that they would have been eligible for, and instead transfer that balance to the other parent. Up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay can be shared in this way.

As noted in guidance from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), in order to be eligible to receive SPL or ShPP, someone must have been continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby’s due date.

In cases where the birth parent dies in childbirth or soon afterwards, the entire remaining SPL or ShPP balance can be taken by the surviving parent. However, they must still meet the continuity of employment test to do so.

Parliamentary interest

In November 2022 a case was reported in the media of a man from Nottinghamshire who found he was not eligible for SPL or ShPP after he had recently changed jobs before his wife died in childbirth. He had taken the issue to his MP, Darren Henry (Con), who had raised it in Parliament.

On 20 December 2022 Darren Henry introduced a Private Member’s Bill, the Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill, under the Ten Minute Rule, to remove the qualifying period of employment in cases where the birth or adopting parent had died. The Bill did not receive a second reading.

On 6 December 2023 there was a Westminster Hall Debate on fatalities in childbirth and statutory leave and pay, opened by Darren Henry MP. A cross-party selection of MPs spoke in favour of extending eligibility to parental leave in cases where partners had died in childbirth. Shadow Minister for Employment Rights, Justin Madders, expressed support for such changes and spoke more widely about the Labour Party’s desire for paternity pay, paternity leave, maternity leave and shared parental leave “to become day one rights”, not just in cases of bereavement.

Responding for the Government, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kevin Hollinrake, expressed sympathies for parents in such situations but also noted that the number of people denied access to SPL due to the continuity of employment test would be very small, anticipating this would be “around 10 per annum”.

What does the Bill do

The Bill would require the Secretary of State to make regulations to “provide for the removal of continuity of employment conditions in respect of the entitlement of a father or partner to shared parental leave in cases where a mother has died.”

Unlike the unsuccessful 2022-23 Bill, this Bill would only affect Shared Parental Leave and not Shared Parental Pay.

Such changes would, if made, mean that access to SPL became a day one right for partners of a mother who has died, with no continuity of employment test. However, all the usual tests would continue to apply for ShPP.


Documents to download

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