The House of Lords is scheduled to debate the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill at second reading on 17 May 2024. It is a private member’s bill sponsored by Baroness Anderson of Stoke-on-Trent (Labour) and has government support. The bill was introduced in the House of Commons by Chris Elmore (Labour MP for Ogmore) with a different short title (as the Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill) and completed its Commons stages on 26 April 2024. It received its first reading in the House of Lords on 29 April 2024.

At present, unlike adoption or maternity leave, there is no day one right to paternity leave. An employee must be employed under the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible for paternity leave. This is known as the continuity employment test. Therefore, if the mother of a child dies during childbirth, her partner would not be eligible for paternity leave unless he met the criteria of the continuity employment test. There is no current legal requirement for an employer to provide leave to partners who do not meet the test criteria.

The bill would amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to ensure that a period of paternity leave is available to all bereaved fathers and partners who do not meet the continuity employment requirements to access paternity leave. This would include in cases of adoption or surrogacy.

The Department for Business and Trade published explanatory notes for the bill following amendments made to the bill during committee stage in the House of Commons. The department also published a delegated powers memorandum for the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on 30 April 2024.

The bill received cross-party support in the House of Commons. The bill would apply in England, Scotland and Wales. As employment matters are devolved, the bill will not extend to Northern Ireland.

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