Expected new laws could mean that bereaved parents will soon be entitled to 2 weeks paid leave, following the death of a child. This could come into effect as soon as 2020, as outlined by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) last week.
This legislation would provide for the loss of a child under the age of 18, however the employee would need to be working for 26 weeks in order for the leave to be paid. As it stands, no laws are in place to support parents in such circumstances, though many employers allow for this leave anyway.
This new law is unique in the sense that it is specific to parents, as no such law exists to support other bereavements. However, this is seen to be a step in the right direction by the BEIS, who allege that this new leave allowance will be “one of the most generous in the world.”
The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill was first introduced by the Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake. According to the BEIS report, Hollinrake sees the move bringing significant relief to those affected:
“Sadly I have had constituents who have gone through this dreadful experience and while some parents prefer to carry on working, others need time off.
This new law will give employed parents a legal right to two weeks’ paid leave, giving them that all-important time and space away from work to grieve at such a desperately sad time."
Although this report sheds some light on how the new measures are likely to look, clarity is yet to be provided in terms of funding. For larger businesses, they will be able to reclaim most of the pay, though this figure is not yet set out in the bill. For smaller businesses, however, they should be able to recover all of the pay.
The paid leave that a bereaved parent is eligible for to is expected to fall in line with other statutory family related entitlements, with the actual rate yet to be confirmed.
This new law could prompt HR departments to reconsider the ways that they approach bereavement. It could also serve to resolve any anxieties that an employee might have in the absence of a written policy to protect them, in such difficult times.
The BEIS will be working will employers, representatives and campaigners next summer, with the bill going to a second reading in Parliament in the autumn with their findings.
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