Parental Bereavement Leave
September 3, 2019 3:30 pm
Parental Bereavement Leave is a right which we all hope will never apply to us and ours. The death of a child is surely one of the worst possible experiences, whether sudden or slow, or from accident, illness or violence. The obligation to attend work at such a time can be a great burden. The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 seeks to address this and gives employees some rights and employers some certainty.
The new Act gives all employed parents a statutory right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees will be able to claim statutory parental bereavement pay for this period, if they meet the relevant eligibility criteria, including being employed for at least six months and in a close relationship with the child.
The Act is designed to apply in very difficult circumstances, and to make a statutory right of that which many employers already give. The Act was introduced as a private member’s bill, but was supported by the government and meets a Conservative party manifesto commitment. It is expected that the new rights will come into force in 2020, once regulations have been made setting out the detail. The regulations are expected to provide that the leave must be taken within 56 days of the child’s death. It is perhaps highly likely that the time would be taken immediately, to allow for the immediate period of grief and the funeral arrangements.
This may be regarded as a relatively minor piece of legislation and thankfully never relevant to most of us. However, in those difficult cases where it is relevant, it will perhaps be of use in setting expectations for both employer and employee. The rights given will of course be a minimum, and many employers will choose to take a very sympathetic approach to such difficult circumstances.