Grieving Parents – Parental Bereavement Bill Published

Under the law as it stands, employers are not required to give paid leave to grieving parents. Section 57A(1)(c) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to take a reasonable amount of time off to take action which is necessary for dependents – and Section 57A(1)(c) of the Act specifically refers to action which is necessary in consequence of the death of a dependant.

In a 2004 case (Forster v Cartwright Black Solicitors) the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that Section 57A(1)(c) does not cover sickness absence due to grief. The relevant wording of the Act refers to the numerous arrangements that have to be made when someone dies, such as registering the death, making funeral arrangements, applying for a grant of probate, etc. It does not extend to compassionate leave as a result of bereavement.

In July 2017, a Private Members’ Bill, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill 2017-19, was introduced into Parliament by Kevin Hollinrake MP. The Bill, which has now been published, is being supported by the Government and received its second reading in Parliament on 20 October 2017.

Scheduled to come into force in 2020, the Bill will give employees who lose a child under 18, the right to two weeks’ paid leave.

Employees whose lose a child will also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay if they have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service. Employers will be able to recover some or all the cost of this from the Government.

If you have any Employment Law queries, please contact our expert Charlotte Braham on 01494 521 301 for further advice.

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