The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill has been introduced to Parliament on 19 July 2017.
Under the proposed new law, employed parents who suffer the death of a child will for the first time be entitled to statutory paid leave. The law is supported by the government in line with its initiative to “enhance the rights and protections in the workplace” to ensure that grieving parents in employment receive paid leave to mourn away from the workplace.
Kevin Hollinrake MP who introduced the Bill said: “This is such an important Bill for parents going through the most terrible of times. There is little any of us can do to help, but at least we can make sure that every employer will give them time to grieve.”
At present, under the Employment Rights Act, there are no legal requirements for employers to give paid leave to grieving parents. Employees, however, have a right to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work to make arrangements following the death of a dependant.
The new Bereavement Law will make it compulsory for employers to offer two weeks of paid bereavement leave to parents after the death of a child under the age of 18 or in full-time education. The Bill states that grieving parents must be paid no less than 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings, or £139.58 per week (which was the statutory weekly rate in force at the time the Bill was originally published, but is currently £140.98), whichever is lesser. This amendment could help parents deal with the financial implications of bereavement, including paying for funeral arrangements.
It has not yet been confirmed whether or not the law will include parents who have lost a child during pregnancy.
The Bill is expected to have its second reading in the House of Commons in the autumn. In the meantime, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will be talking to employers, employee representatives and campaigners to better understand the needs of bereaved parents.