1. The NHS Staff Council is aware that employers in the NHS show compassion in circumstances where staff, who are parents, experience the death of a child. The provisions below are designed to set out a minimum national standard of leave and pay in these circumstances. These provisions do not prevent employers from exercising their local flexibility to provide leave and pay beyond these provisions.
2. For the purpose of this Section, a bereaved parent is anyone who had responsibility as one of the primary carers for a child who is now deceased. This includes adoptive parents, legal guardians, individuals who are fostering to adopt, and any other parent/child relationship that the employing organisation deems to be reasonable. For example, this may include grandparents who have had caring responsibilities for a child, or instances where someone other than the biological parent is the primary carer (this could be the case where the parents of the child have separated).
3. For this agreement, there is no requirement for the child to be under 18 years of age.
4. All bereaved parents will be eligible for a minimum of two weeks of child bereavement leave. A bereaved parent will not be required to demonstrate any eligibility criteria in order to access bereavement leave or pay.
5. All bereaved parents will be entitled to two weeks’ occupational child bereavement pay which will include any entitlement to statutory parental bereavement pay. Pay is calculated on the basis of what the individual would have received had he/she been at work. This would normally be based on the previous three months at work or any other reference period that may be locally agreed.
6. Where both parents of a deceased child work in the same NHS organisation, the entitlements in this Section will apply to both members of staff.
7. Parents who experience a still birth from the 24th week of pregnancy will be eligible for these provisions, and will subsequently still be eligible for the provisions set out in this Handbook at Section 15. Bereavement leave and pay may be extended to members of staff, by local arrangement, in these circumstances where they were hoping to become parents under surrogacy arrangements.
8. Bereaved parents do not have to take the two weeks of leave in a continuous block. The employee should agree with their employer the leave they wish to take. Taking child bereavement leave is an individual choice, it is not compulsory for the employee to take child bereavement leave.
9. Bereaved parents may request to take child bereavement leave at any point up to 56 weeks following the death of the child. Should the parent wish to take child bereavement leave immediately following the death of a child they shall be able to do so upon informing their employer that they will be absent from work for this purpose. Should the parent wish to take child bereavement leave at another time, after the initial period following the death, they should give their employer reasonable notice of their intention to take the leave at this time.
10. The method for informing the employer of a child bereavement should follow locally agreed processes. Bereaved parents will at no point be required to produce the child’s Death Certificate, or any other official documents, in order to access child bereavement leave or pay. The employer may ask for a written declaration from the employee, within a reasonable timeframe, in order to satisfy statutory requirements.1
1 In Scotland, this section should be read in conjunction with the most up to date PIN policies which can be found at www.staffgovernance.scot.nhs.uk.