Parental bereavement leave to become law: what employers need to know

Parents and carers who suffer a loss of a child under 18 will be eligible for paid leave under new laws expected to come into force in 2020.

In a report published this month, the Government confirmed that the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act will be widened beyond parents to all primary carers for children, including adopters, foster parents and guardians.

The law, which is expected to come into force in 2020, is the first of its kind in the UK to support employees and give them time to grieve.

Employers need to be aware of the new laws so they can ready for when tragedy strikes in the workforce. These have been briefly outlined below:

  • leave can be taken either in 1 block (of 1 or 2 weeks) or as 2 separate blocks of 1 week
  • leave and pay can be taken within a 56-week window from the child’s death so as to allow time for important moments such as anniversaries
  • notice requirements will be flexible so that leave can be taken without prior notice very soon after the child’s death
  • employers will not be entitled to request a copy of death certificate to use as evidence

Commenting on the announcement, Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust, a charity which provides emotional support for bereaved parents, said: “We are very pleased that the government has listened to bereaved families and responded to their concerns in paving the way for the implementation of the new Act.

“Losing a baby or child is a devastating experience for all the family and extending the provisions of the act to adopters, foster carers, guardians and kinship carers is very important. Offering time and flexibility to bereaved families at a time that best suits them is also crucial in supporting them through their journey.”

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst added: “Dealing with the loss of a child is an awful tragedy which we recognise people will deal with differently.

“It is important this new law is designed so that people are given the space and respect to grieve in their own way.”

For help and advice preparing for the new policy, please get in touch with our employment law department.