Parental bereavement pay

Parental bereavement pay

The subject of parental bereavement pay and entitlement is not one that any of us look forward to. However, if you find yourself in such a situation, an ability to manage your finances will take at least a little bit of pressure off. This should allow you to focus more on your grief and carrying out the various tasks required after such an event. So, who is entitled to it and how do you claim it?

Eligibility for parental bereavement pay

The eligibility terms for parental bereavement pay are relatively straightforward. You may be able to claim it, if either of the following conditions apply to you:-

  • You are eligible to take parental bereavement leave
  • You pay income tax/national insurance by the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system
  • Income tax and national insurance deductions are noted separately on your payslip

Employment conditions

In a similar fashion to maternity pay, there are further conditions when it comes to claiming parental bereavement pay. You must have:-

  • Worked for your employer for a minimum of 26 weeks up to the week in which your child died/was stillborn
  • A minimum average gross wage of £120 a week

Calculating average gross wage

There are specific conditions when it comes to working out your average gross wage:-

  • Your average pay is calculated using the previous eight weeks income prior to the death of your child
  • If you’re on furlough, the calculation will relate back to your “normal” pay prior to COVID
  • Your parental bereavement pay will be the lower of either £151.20 a week or 90% of your average gross weekly pay (as calculated above)

At first glance, this does look a little complicated. However, it is fairly straightforward and you should quickly be able to work out whether you are eligible. It is worth remembering that this is a statutory obligation on your employer, and is paid in the same manner as your regular wages.

It is important to appreciate which figures are used when calculating your average weekly income, especially if you are close to the £120 minimum for eligibility to claim.

Claiming parental bereavement pay

There are a number of factors to consider when claiming parental bereavement pay. In a perfect world, you would give your employer a minimum of 28 days’ notice prior to the start of your parental bereavement leave. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to give such notice in what can be harrowing times. Therefore, you should let your employer know as soon as possible what has happened, and your plans to take parental bereavement leave.

It is sensible to put your request in writing, avoiding confusion and also creating a paper trail which could be useful if there are any disputes. Your initial request should include:-

  • The date of your child’s death
  • Your preferred parental bereavement leave start and end date

Declaration of entitlement

While you are also obliged to include a “declaration of entitlement”, your employer is not allowed to request supporting documentation confirming the death of your child. In your “declaration of entitlement” you should clarify:-

  • Who you are
  • Your relationship with the deceased child
  • The basis of your entitlement to parental bereavement pay

There is no requirement to go into great detail regarding the events leading to your parental bereavement leave. So long as you include the above details this will be enough to cover your regulatory obligations.

Employer refuses to provide parental bereavement pay

The terms and conditions regarding parental bereavement pay are fairly simple. Therefore, it should be straightforward when looking to see whether you are eligible. It is important to note that should your employer refuse to provide parental bereavement pay, they are legally obliged to supply you with a “SPBP1” form which details the reasons for their stance.

We will cover the statutory complaint procedure in a moment, but it may be useful to approach your employer on an informal basis once they have made their decision. It may be a genuine misunderstanding, error or they may not appreciate recent changes in parental bereavement regulations. In the vast majority of cases, where your employer has made a mistake, this will be rectified very quickly. In the event that your employer refuses to acknowledge your valid claim for parental bereavement pay, the next stop is HMRC.

Approaching HMRC with a parental bereavement pay complaint

You have six months, from the date your employer made the decision to refuse bereavement pay, to contact HMRC with a formal complaint. During the initial complaints process you will need to provide:-

  • Background on your claim for parental bereavement pay
  • The date on which your employer refused your application
  • Details as to why you think you are eligible
  • A copy of your “SPBP1” form provided by your employer

If your employer has refused to provide a “SPBP1” form this will not go down well with HMRC. In effect your employer is ignoring their statutory obligations.

HMRC decision

Once HMRC have gathered as much information as possible, they will make a ruling on your claim. If they believe you are entitled, they will contact your employer and request that they make good these payments immediately. In the event that your employer ignores this demand from HMRC, they will be fined and you will be paid directly from HMRC.

Appealing an HMRC decision

As an employee/employer you have the right to appeal against any HMRC decision on parental bereavement pay. It may be that new information has come to light, you have spotted a discrepancy in the HMRC ruling or the situation has changed. Upon receipt of your appeal, HMRC is legally bound to review your case in the event there have been changes or discrepancies recognised.

Unfortunately, many of those seeking parental bereavement leave are unaware that they may be eligible for parental bereavement pay. We can only imagine how many people dismiss this process because they obviously have more important things on their mind. However, it is important that you claim what you are rightly due, because additional financial pressure would be the last thing that you needed.

Points of contact

Your first port of call, after an informal approach to your employer has failed, is HMRC at:-

HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team
Room BP 2301
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1YS

Telephone: 0300 056 0630

If you are unable to get through to HMRC then the National Insurance general enquiries helpline should be able to assist:-

National Insurance: general enquiries helpline
Telephone: 0300 200 3500
Textphone: 0300 200 3519
Open Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm

It is important that you have supporting information/evidence to hand when contacting either HMRC or the National Insurance general enquiries helpline.

Seeking professional guidance

The terms and conditions regarding eligibility and level of parental bereavement pay are relatively straightforward. In the event that your employer is disputing your entitlement, or the level of payments, it is sensible to take professional advice. This will take away much of the pressure of negotiating with your employer, to see that you are paid what you are rightfully owed. In the event that you have misunderstood the eligibility factors, or the way in which average wages are calculated, your adviser should advise you accordingly.

Thankfully, the majority of employers are very understanding and sympathetic when it comes to the death of a child. As a consequence, it is unlikely that you would have any real issues with your request for both parental bereavement pay and leave. Indeed, you may find that your employer has additional bereavement support, both practical and financial, written into your employment contract.

Make sure you are aware of the regulations, your rights to parental bereavement pay and take guidance if you are unsure.