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Government publishes parental bereavement leave bill

The Government has launched new legislation that will allow parents the right to paid leave in the event of the death of one of their children.

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill will mean that workers with 26 weeks’ continuous service who suffer the loss of a child aged 18 or under will receive statutory parental bereavement pay. This payment will be made for a period of two weeks, and leave can commence immediately upon the worker hearing of their child’s untimely death. It is expected that employers will be able to reclaim some or all of the parental bereavement payments.

Under existing law, you are often at the mercy of your employer if you receive the worst possible news about your child. Under the Employment Rights Act, you currently have the right to take immediate leave should your child die, whether this is required to get over your loss, make funeral arrangements and/or sort out other matters. However, existing law simply says you have the right to a “reasonable” amount of time off, without specifying a particular time period. At present, your employer is also under no obligation to pay you for this time off either.

The Bill is expected to become law by 2020.

Margot James MP, the business minister, said: 

“We want parents to feel properly supported by their employer when they go through the deeply distressing ordeal of losing a child. That’s why Government is backing this bill which goes significantly further than most other countries in providing this kind of workplace right for employees.”

Kevin Hollinrake MP, who introduced the new Bill, added: 

“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.”

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