Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill has received Royal Assent and becomes the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 which is expected to come into force by April 2020.
This Act is the first of its kind in the UK and provides a right for up to two weeks leave to any employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees will be entitled to this period of leave irrespective of their length of service and may also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay provided that they have been employed for 26 weeks prior to the week of the child’s death. The bereavement leave must be taken within 56 days of the child’s death and where the parents have suffered multiple bereavements they are entitled to leave in respect of each child.
We will know more about what is covered by the Act when the regulations are published, including whether it will apply to grandparents, step-parents, foster parents and adoptive parents. The Regulation will also provide details of how much remuneration is to be paid, whether leave can be taken flexibly in multiple blocks, and the required notice periods for bereavement leave.
Currently employees have a right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances, however Employment Appeal Tribunal guidance was provided that suggested one or two days leave would be regarded as reasonable. This Act is a significant judgement for both employers and employees which, for the first time, has made specific bereavement leave and pay into a legal right for employees in the UK.
Employers may already have a bereavement policy in place for when this situation arises, but they should now look to review and update their policies to reflect the changes in the law.
We know that this will be a difficult time for the employee and so if as a Practice Owner you are unsure how to address the situation, here at FTA Law we can offer advice on all aspects of an employer’s duties towards their employees, including providing advice on policies such as bereavement leave. Please contact us on 0330 088 2275 for further information.
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