The Government is aiming to enact the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill by 2020. The bill completed the committee stage on the 7th February 2018, with the report stage scheduled for the 11th May 2018. Whilst the bill is making its way through parliament, however, the Government has launched a consultation on key areas of the proposed legislation. Nevertheless, once enacted, it is envisaged that the legislation will provide parents with 2 weeks paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18.
Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill
The bill was introduced as a private members bill by MP, Kevin Hollinrake, with Government backing. Hollinrake stated at the time: “Sadly I have had constituents who have gone through this dreadful experience and while some parents prefer to carry on working, others need time off. This new law will give employed parents a legal right to two weeks’ paid leave, giving them that all-important time and space away from work to grieve at such a desperately sad time.“
In confirming that the bill had Government backing, business minister Margot James added: “We want parents to feel properly supported by their employer when they go through the deeply distressing ordeal of losing a child. That’s why government is backing this bill, which goes significantly further than most other countries in providing this kind of workplace right for employees.”
The aim is to provide parents with 2 weeks paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 (to be taken within 8 weeks of the date of death of the child). The parents would receive statutory parental bereavement pay during that period (the statutory rate currently being £145.18 per week), and to be eligible, the employee must have a minimum of 26 weeks service with the employer with average earnings that meet the lower earnings limit (currently, £116.00 per week).
The Government has launched a consultation which focuses on 3 issues:-
- How a bereaved parent should be defined for the purposes of the legislation. For example, should it incorporate not only biological and adoptive parents, but also “others who have a long term relationship with a child which is parental in nature” such as step parents
- How and when leave can be taken by the bereaved parents
- What notice should be provided, and what evidence is required in support of the application for leave
Within the consultation document, the Government states that its priority is to “strike the right balance between allowing as much flexibility as possible for bereaved parents with varying needs to grieve, and the need for employers to have a degree of certainty over when and how their employees can take Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay.”
The consultation closes on the 8th June 2018.