At a glance
- Parental bereavement leave to be introduced from April 2020
- This will be available to anyone with primary responsibility for a child
- Employers urged to implement flexible bereavement policies
Parents and primary carers who suffer the loss of a child will be entitled to at least two weeks’ paid parental bereavement leave from April 2020, it has been confirmed.
According to Personnel Today, the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act, entitles primary carers - including parents, adopters, foster parents and guardians, who have taken responsibility for the child’s care in the absence of parents – to time off work following the death of a child.
The Act takes into consideration feedback from a consultation earlier this year. Those eligible to receive the entitlement will be able to claim two week’s paid parental bereavement leave from April 2020.
Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service or more will receive paid leave at the statutory rate and other staff will be entitled to unpaid leave.
No prior legal requirement
“Until now there has been no legal requirement for employers to provide paid time off for grieving carers and, until 2020, this remains the case until the new regulations come into force,” said Toni Ryan, health management consultant at Aon. “The major advancement here is acknowledging the rights of primary carers – a broader category than parents alone.”
Business minister Kelly Tolhurst, described the loss of a child as ‘an awful tragedy’ and said the law had been designed to give people ‘space and respect’ to grieve in their own way.
Leave can either be taken in one block or in two separate blocks of one week. It can be taken within a 56 week window from the child’s death, to allow time for moments such as anniversaries. Leave can be flexible and can be taken without prior notice.
Francine Bates, chief executive of charity The Lullaby Trust said: “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.”
Flexible bereavement policy needed
Calling on employers to support bereavement families by implementing a ‘flexible bereavement policy’ Ryan said a bereavement policy would also provide both employees and managers with much-needed clarity during a time of crisis rather than having to suffer further anxiety over ambiguous or unclear workplace provisions and entitlements.
“Bereavement can have a major impact on both the physical and emotional wellbeing of an employee so showing a compassionate, flexible attitude and providing tangible support services such as counselling through an EAP can help employees to remain in the workplace in the months following their loss,” Ryan added. “The role of the line manager is particularly important during this time and supportive employers can make all the difference.”
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