New leave allowance proposed for grieving parents
The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill was introduced in the summer and was published earlier this month and will entitle parents who lose a child under the age of 18 (including a still birth after 24 weeks) to two weeks' paid leave.
Currently, whilst employers are expected to be understanding and flexible, there is no legal obligation to allow parents paid time off to grieve.
Under Time off for Dependants Regulations employees have a right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including making arrangements following the death of a dependant. What is “reasonable” depends on the circumstances but in practice the length of time off will be agreed between the employer and their employee.
For the first time, parents who are employed and have suffered the death of a child would receive statutory paid leave to grieve under a new law being supported by the government and introduced to Parliament. The government expects employers to be compassionate and flexible at such a difficult time, but not all employers will respond in this way. This can have a devastating impact on parents, especially those who need time away to grieve.
Whilst the Bill is progressing through the legislative stages and, if all the stages are completed, the regulations are expected to be introduced in 2020. The new bill, The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, will entitle all employees to parental bereavement leave, regardless of their length of service. Those who have 26 weeks' continuous service will also benefit from statutory bereavement pay (at the prescribed rate or 90% of their average earnings (whichever is lower), the cost of which employers will be able to recover from the Government. If a parent loses more than one child, employees will be entitled to leave in respect of each child. Employers will need to ensure that their employees do not suffer from detriment, redundancy and/or dismissal as a result of taking bereavement leave.
Kevin Hollinrake MP sponsor said:
“This is such an important Bill for parents going through the most terrible of times. There is little any of us can do to help, but at least we can make sure that every employer will give them time to grieve.
I have represented a number of constituents who have had to deal with the tragedy of losing a child and I am honoured to be able to do something to help parents in these desperate circumstances.”
Business Minister Margot James said:
“The loss of a child is a traumatic experience for any parent. For parents holding down a job at the same time as dealing with their grief it can be doubly stressful.
We want parents to get the support they need at this deeply upsetting time that is why government is supporting this Private Members Bill which will introduce statutory paid bereavement leave for employed parents.”
Whilst this is not yet the law, if you are faced with difficult circumstances, such as the loss of a child, as always, HR:4UK are here to help you.