Working parents who lose a child have no legal entitlement currently to take paid leave to begin their grieving process in private or to put necessary arrangements in place.
The majority of employers will offer their employees some time off but there is no obligation on them to do so, and conflict can often arise when agreeing the period of leave and whether the time off is paid or not. Added to which employees often feel compelled to take annual leave or sick leave to make up for the law’s deficiencies.
In a private members’ bill due for its second reading next week on 28 October 2016, new laws are proposed which would close this major lacuna in UK employment law.
Under the Parental Bereavement Leave (Statutory Entitlement) Bill proposals parents would be entitled to a minimum of 2 weeks’ paid leave on the death of a child. During that leave, the default rate of pay would be the lower of 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings or £139.58 per week, with employers free to be able to agree to top up the pay, increase the period of leave, or both. During a period of leave parents would be entitled to have their terms and conditions preserved and enjoy protection from dismissal and detriment whilst on leave, in common with other types of parental leave.
We await the outcome of the Bill’s second reading with interest and will report on its progress in future briefings. In the meantime employers should ensure that they have a clear policy on bereavement and compassionate leave situations which extends beyond parental entitlements to reduce scope for confusion and conflict.
If you would like any assistance drawing up a bereavement leave policy or policies in general, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01904 520160.