Under a proposed new law, employed parents will get statutory paid time off work to mourn the death of their child.

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill was introduced by Kevin Hollinrake MP and aims to deliver on the government’s pledge to enhance rights in the workplace.

Current law

There is an expectation that employers will be flexible and compassionate in such circumstances, but as the law currently stands, there are no specific statutory rights for workers to take leave for compassionate or bereavement reasons.

Under the Employment Rights Act, all employees, irrespective of their length of service, are entitled to the right to take unpaid time off to deal with emergencies and unforeseen matters involving a dependant, for example, a spouse or civil partner, child or parent.

Employees are entitled to a “reasonable” amount of time off. This could be a few hours or one or two days. It will all depend on the individual circumstances. However what is important to note is that if an employee is seeking time off in consequence of a death, they should be granted leave to arrange and attend the funeral, but the right does not extend to cover time off for grieving or mourning.

What happens next?

Over the course of the summer, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will be working with employers, employee representatives and campaigners on behalf of working families to get a better understanding of the needs of those parents suffering bereavement and their employers. It is expected that the proposed new law will have its second reading in the autumn.

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