A new right to paid leave for bereaved parents has received Royal Assent and is expected to enter into force in 2020.
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Act) 2018 provides employed parents with the right to at least two weeks of leave following the death of a child under the age of 18. This right will apply from day one of employment. Bereaved parents will also be entitled to be paid while they are off.
Will Quince MP commented ‘There can be few worse life experiences than the loss of a child and while most employers treat their staff with dignity and compassion when this tragedy occurs, all too often we have heard stories of grieving parents being forced back to work too early.’
He continued ‘I am delighted that parents in this awful situation will now have the protection of paid leave enshrined in law, and we should be very proud that the UK now has one of the best worker’s rights in this area in the world’.
Current law on bereavement leave
Employers should be flexible and compassionate in these types of circumstances, but as the law currently stands, there are no specific statutory rights for employees to take leave for compassionate or bereavement reasons.
Under the Employment Rights Act, all employees, irrespective of their length of service, are entitled to the right to take unpaid time off to deal with emergencies and unforeseen matters involving a dependant, for example, a spouse or civil partner, child or parent.
Employees are entitled to a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off. This could be a few hours or one or two days. It will all depend on the individual circumstances. However what is important to note is that if an employee is seeking time off in consequence of a death, they should be granted leave to arrange and attend the funeral, but the right does not extend to cover time off for grieving or mourning.
To discuss how to deal with request for time off after bereavement, seek advice from your HR specialist.