Skip to main content

Shared Parental Leave Bill: Further amendments at Committee stage

Work from home parental leave - man on laptop w/ children's toys

Background to the Bill

The Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill was originally introduced to the House of Commons on 6 December 2023 as a Private Member’s Bill by Chris Elmore, the Labour MP for Ogmore, with support from Darren Henry, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe. It has enjoyed the support of the Government and across party lines.

The Bill is intended to amend existing employment legislation to ensure that the continuity of service requirement is no longer necessary for bereaved fathers or partners wishing to take paternity leave in cases where a child’s mother, adoptive parent or parent of a child born through surrogacy dies. The explanatory notes for the Bill can be found here.

On 20 March 2024, the Bill entered the Committee stage, where it was renamed the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill and has also been substantially amended by the Public Bill Committee. A draft of the Bill as currently amended can be found here.

Latest amendments

In its initial form, the Bill required the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to introduce regulations to remove the requirement that fathers (or partners) must have been employed at their place of work continuously for 26 weeks to have the right to take shared parental leave when a child’s mother dies during the period of shared parental leave.

As amended by the Public Bill Committee, the Bill now proposes to alter the Employment Rights Act 1996 in the following ways:

  1. The mechanism allowing fathers and partners to take leave for a relevant bereavement would now be paternity leave, rather than shared parental leave. This would apply to adoptive parents and parents of children born via surrogacy and could be utilised even where the 26-week continuity of service condition has not yet been met;
  2. The current rule stating that a father (or partner) who has taken shared parental leave cannot take paternity leave would be removed;
  3. The Secretary of State would be empowered to make regulations to provide bereaved fathers/partners the right to stay on paternity leave for a period if a situation arises where the child also dies, or has to be returned after being adopted; and
  4. The Secretary of State could likewise make regulations to protect bereaved fathers/partners returning to work from paternity leave from redundancy. They could also be given “keep-in-touch” days and the flexibility to work for their employer without returning from leave.

The Bill entered the Report Stage on 26 April 2024.


If passed as currently amended, the Bill would introduce a much more generous regime for fathers/partners that need to take leave in the event that they face a bereavement and a child’s mother, adoptive parent or parent of a child born through surrogacy dies.

In particular, the Public Bill Committee have already hinted that things may change further in due course: in their debate on the bill (a transcript of which can be found here), specific reference was made to a concept of ‘extended paternity leave’. At third reading (a transcript of which can be found here), Chris Elmore MP has since clarified that the Committee intend for a bereaved father/partner to be entitled to 52 weeks’ leave during the first year of their child’s life, from the day on which the child’s mother or primary adopter has died.

However, as the Bill has yet to go to the House of Lords, where it will likely be further scrutinised and debated in more detail, it is possible that further amendments will be made before it passes into law.

HR professionals would therefore be well advised to keep a close eye out for any future developments.

Contact the Author(s)

Share this article

Contact the Author(s)