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Bereaved parents to receive two weeks’ paid leave

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Employed parents grieving the loss of their child will have the right to two weeks’ paid leave, under proposed laws published today.

For the first time, employees with a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service will be eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay where a child under the age of 18 dies.

Currently under the Employment Rights Act, employees have a day-one right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependent, including making arrangements following their death.

However, there is no legal requirement for employers to provide paid leave for grieving parents – the only expectation is that employers be compassionate and flexible.

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill sets out a law to offer financial support to eligible parents from day one. The statutory pay is in line with statutory maternity pay of £140.98 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

However, the law is expected to come into force in 2020. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) estimates the annual cost of statutory payments under this proposal to be between £1.3m and £2m.

BEIS confirmed small employers will be able to recover all statutory parental bereavement pay while larger employers will be able to reclaim almost all of it.

Kevin Hollinrake MP, bill sponsor, said: “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.

Francine Bates, CEO of The Lullaby Trust, said: “We warmly welcome this new law giving paid leave to bereaved parents. Losing a child is one of the most devastating experiences that a parent can go through and it is vitally important they are supported by their employer and not made to return to work before they are ready.

“We know many bereaved parents who have campaigned tirelessly for paid compassionate leave after the death of a child and are very pleased to see that the UK is now leading the way in supporting parents who need time away from work to grieve for their child.”

The bill received its first reading in July and it is due for a second reading on 20 October.

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