Parental bereavement pay and leave to be introduced?

25 July 2017

Employers could soon be under a statutory obligation to provide paid leave for grieving parents.

The entitlement – contained in the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill – was introduced in Parliament last Thursday (19 July).

If the Bill passes into law, it’ll give employed parents the legal right to pay and leave following the death of a child.

Why?

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.

As it stands, there is no legal requirement in place to ensure employers provide paid leave for grieving parents. In some cases, this may result in parents returning to work almost immediately, which can pose risks to their wellbeing.

Some employers do already give paid ‘compassionate leave’, and the aim of the Bill’s to provide this buffer for all working parents.

What happens now?

Currently, under the Employment Rights Act, employed parents have the 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.

There’s no definition as to what length of time constitutes ‘reasonable’, and this is agreed on between the employer and employee. If no agreement is reached, the dispute can only be resolved through Acas or an employment tribunal.

What next?

The Bill is due to have its second reading in Parliament on 20 October 2017.

Margot James, Business Minister, 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.”

A word from us

David Hewitt, Head of Employment Law Information, HR and Employment Law at Citation, said: “This Bill is aimed at delivering on the government’s promise to ensure “bereavement support” for employees and its pledge to “enhance rights and protections in the workplace”, and we look forward to seeing details of the support that will be available.”

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