A government bill, which is likely to become law in 2020, will give parents two weeks paid leave if they lose a child who is under the age of 18.
It’s remarkable to think that this doesn’t already exist, but as it stands at the moment grieving parents have no entitlement to leave and, if there is no policy or agreement in place with the employer, may be forced to take annual leave to grieve the loss of their child.
The Employment Rights Act 1996, simply states that employees have a statutory right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work for an emergency.
In reality I’m sure most employers would show compassion and understanding in such dreadful circumstances, however, an employer has no legal obligation to provide bereavement leave or provide paid leave.
The aim of the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill is to enhance rights and protections in the workplace by making sure employers are flexible and fair should an employee suffer the devastation of losing a child.
It will give employed parents with a minimum of 26 weeks of continuous service a right to two weeks of paid parental bereavement leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 and employers will be able to reclaim some or all of the costs.
As employers, we might prefer to simply hope that this kind of scenario is not one we’ll ever have to face, but it is worth considering what you would do if it did happen. Introducing a policy to support employees and provide clarity is worth considering.