Parental Bereavement: Right to paid leave is coming

The Wilkes Partnership

There has recently been an interesting development and expansion to employee rights and protection in the workplace.

In July 2017 Parliament introduced The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill (‘the Bill’).

The new law, expected to come into force in 2020, will give all employed parents the entitlement to have two weeks’ paid leave following the death of a child under the age of 18, or should they suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Jas Dubb Associate Solicitor in our Employment Team considers the key points of the new law and the impact this could have on employees.

Attempts to introduce paid parental bereavement leave over the past few years have been unsuccessful but the Bill which introduced into the House of Commons on 19 July 2017, has led to the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018.

It will seek to ensure grieving parents in employment, with 6 month’s service or more will receive 2 weeks paid leave to grieve away from the workplace.

Employees will be entitled to a statutory rate of pay (currently £148.68 a week) or 90% of their average weekly earnings per week (whichever is lower).

This is in comparison to the capped statutory rates in place for employees on maternity leave/ paternity leave or shared parental pay.

Most employers are likely to be sympathetic to an employees’ need for time off and support during such a difficult time.

But currently the only recourse available is under the Employment Rights Act, under which employees only have a right to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work but only to the extent of putting in place arrangements in case of an emergency which may affect a dependant they have responsibility for.

What is deemed “reasonable” depends on the circumstances and can vary from employer to employer.

Jas Dubb comments: “It has been estimated that 1 in 10 employees are likely to be affected by bereavement at any one time. The loss of a child is a traumatic experience for any parent. The Bill will provide parents with the certainty of having time off as a matter of right so they can grieve and start to come to terms with their loss.

"In these situations, employers should be mindful that advance planning and training will ensure that managers are better prepared to deal with what can be a difficult time for staff affected by bereavement. Employers should also consider having a separate written bereavement policy in preparation for the future or at least consider reviewing their Employee Handbooks and updating their Family Friendly Policy accordingly.”

For further guidance on this issue or any other employment related matter please contact Jas Dubb on 0121 710 4312

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