Legislation currently going through Parliament will give employed parents two weeks’ paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18. There is currently no legal requirement for employers to provide paid time off for grieving relatives but the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill will give a day-one right to parental bereavement leave and employees with a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service will be eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay.
When will the right be available?
The government made a manifesto commitment to introduce a new entitlement for parental bereavement leave and the new law is expected to come into force in 2020.
What is the current position?
There is currently no legal right to compassionate leave or pay for time off when a relative dies. Many employers have compassionate leave policies but these are generally informal with companies tending to react to employees’ circumstances on an ad hoc basis.
Under the Employment Rights Act, employees have a day-one 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
While the new right will apply only to parents who lose a child under the age of 18, this will still go significantly further than most other countries in providing this kind of workplace right for employees.
Who will pay for it?
Small employers will be able to recover all statutory parental bereavement pay from the government while larger employers will be able to reclaim almost all of it when the new right comes into force.