Bereavement Leave for Parents Who Lose a Child

The right to paid leave for bereaved parents was officially enshrined in law on 13th September 2018 and is expected to come into force in 2020.

Employers are expected to be compassionate and flexible at these difficult times, but there is currently no legal requirement for employers to provide paid time off for grieving parents.

The new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act will support those affected by the tragedy of childhood mortality. It will give all employed parents the right to two weeks paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, to allow them time to grieve.

Subject to meeting eligibility criteria, employed parents with a minimum of 26 weeks continuous service will be able to claim for Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay for this period. Organisations will be able to reclaim some or all of the cost from the Government.

Kelly Tolhurst, Business Minster, stated: ‘this law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history. Losing a child is an unimaginable trauma. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone which so many have campaigned for.’

Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust said that ‘this new law is a big step forward in recognising the needs of bereaved families in our society and will help to ensure that parents are not unduly pressurised to return to work immediately following the death of their child.’

Many organisations already offer their employees paid bereavement leave and it is important that employers consider how grief affects people in the longer term. By providing flexible working and access to counselling as well as ensuring managers are understanding and supportive, this can assist employees in adapting or managing their work when they are struggling to cope. This may be relevant in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy in addition to difficult times of the year.

All our client’s employment documents will be updated in 2020 to reflect this change in workplace legislation.

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