Law guide: Employment

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Contractual issues

Contractual issues

Contractual issues during parental bereavement leave

An employee's contract of employment continues throughout parental bereavement leave unless either you or the employee expressly ends it or it expires.

Terms and conditions during parental bereavement leave

During parental bereavement leave, an employee has a statutory right to continue to benefit from all the terms and conditions of employment that would have applied to them had they been at work, except for the terms relating to pay.

Examples of contractual terms and conditions that continue during parental bereavement leave include:

  • Gym membership
  • Participation in share schemes
  • Reimbursement of professional subscriptions
  • The use of a company car or mobile phone (unless provided for business use only)

Continuous employment and parental bereavement leave

Parental bereavement leave counts towards an employee's period of continuous employment for the purposes of entitlement to other statutory employment rights, e.g. the right to a redundancy payment.

It also counts towards assessing seniority and personal length-of-service payments, such as pay increments, under the contract of employment.

Accrual of annual leave

An employee continues to accrue statutory - and any contractual - annual leave entitlement throughout parental bereavement leave.

An employee may not take annual leave during parental bereavement leave - but may take it immediately before or after it. They can carry over any untaken leave into the next holiday year, but it must be used by the end of that holiday year.

Contributions to a workplace pension scheme

For the purpose of pension rights, during parental bereavement leave an employer should maintain its contribution to the pension. The employee must continue to pay their pension contributions if the pension scheme rules require them to do so. An employee will not have to make any contributions towards their pension during any period in which they are not receiving any statutory parental bereavement pay. However, they may still make voluntary contributions if the pension scheme rules allow them to do so.

Returning to work from parental bereavement leave

An employee will have the right return to a job with the same seniority, pension rights and similar rights. They will also have the right to return to a job with the same terms and conditions (including remuneration) that are as favourable as they would have been if they had not gone on leave.

Following parental bereavement leave, employees will be entitled to return to the same job that they had before taking the leave if any one of the following is true:

  • They only took parental bereavement leave; or
  • They took no more than 4 weeks of parental bereavement leave; or
  • (For employees in England, Wales or Scotland) The parental bereavement leave followed another period of statutory leave (except parental leave) and the total leave taken was 26 weeks or less; or
  • (For employees in Northern Ireland) They took 2 or more consecutive periods of any other statutory leave that resulted in more than 4 weeks of statutory leave.

The employee will still have a right to return to the same job if they return to work after having taken:

  • more than 4 weeks of parental leave; or
  • a period of parental bereavement leave or parental leave that does not comply with the above-mentioned right to return to the same job.

However, if it isn't reasonably possible for you to give it back to them, they will have the right to return to another job that is both suitable and appropriate for them to do. A suitable and appropriate alternative job must be as close as possible to the previous role held by the employee. They must keep their remuneration, seniority, status and the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent.

They are also entitled to benefit from any general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions introduced while they were away.

An employee returning to work may make a request to work flexibly, e.g. to work from home or do part-time hours.

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