Research indicates that one in ten employees is likely to be affected by bereavement at any one time. Tragically, in 2017, 7,653 babies, children and young people (under the age of 18) died in the UK. That’s 21 every day.¹
While employees currently have a day-one right to take “reasonable” time off work to deal with an emergency, which would include the death of a dependant, the entitlement is to unpaid leave only and employees often feel pressured to return to work before they are ready to.
The Government-backed Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill was introduced to Parliament as a private member’s bill by Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, and received Royal Assent on 13 September 2018. The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act is expected to come into force in 2020 and will give employed parents who have lost a child the right to take paid leave to allow them time to grieve.
Kevin Hollinrake said, “Losing a child is the most dreadful and unimaginable experience that any parent could suffer and it is right that grieving parents will now be given time to start to come to terms with their loss.”
Who will be entitled to bereavement leave?
What is the bereaved parent entitled to?
So what can employers do now in preparation for the new entitlement to bereavement leave?
Some employers may already have compassionate leave policies which allow for a set period of paid time off work for employees dealing with bereavement. It is advisable to review such a policy in the light of the new entitlement to statutory paid bereavement leave. Employers may wish to consider offering enhanced bereavement pay in line with any other enhanced family-friendly pay they offer, such as enhanced maternity pay.
It is advisable for employers to put in place a bereavement leave policy in advance of the right to bereavement leave coming into effect and to ensure that managers and HR teams receive training on dealing with bereavement in the workplace.
It is important for employers to bear in mind the following factors when dealing with bereavement in the workplace:
¹ Child Bereavement UK: Office for National Statistics; National Records of Scotland; Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
If you would like any assistance in updating or creating a bereavement leave policy to deal with this forthcoming change in legislation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.