Grieving parents to gain access to paid bereavement leave
A new workplace right has been given the royal stamp of approval this week paving the way for bereaved parents to take paid leave off work.
The Parental Leave and Pay Bill, expected to come into force in 2020, will give employed parents who lose a child under 18 years old the right to take two weeks’ statutory leave.
Parents who suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy will also be entitled to take paid time off work.
It is the first law of its kind to offer grieving parents legal rights outside of their employer’s own discretionary practices.
Commenting on the announcement of the new Bill, Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst, said: “This law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history.
“Losing a child is an unimaginable trauma. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone which so many have campaigned for.
“I’d like to thank all the people who have helped make this law a reality, including the brave parent campaigners who have spoken out about their own experiences.”
Will Quince, MP for Colchester, added: “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.
“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.”
Under current laws, there is no statutory right for a parent to take paid leave after bereavement, although workers are entitled to a reasonable period of unpaid time off for dependants. For how long and whether you will be entitled to remuneration during this period will be written into your employer’s own policy.
If your employer does not have a specific policy covering bereavement, workers should contact their HR department or employer, where it is up to them to set a discretionary leave period. This will usually last between one and five days. Again, however, there is no legal requirement to do so.