Government Reforms (1): Parental Bereavement Leave

On 19 July 2017 the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill was introduced to Parliament. This is a Private Members Bill which has the support of the Government and intends to establish a new right for employed parents to paid leave to grieve on the death of their child. The Bill is expected to have a second reading in October but is unlikely to become law until 2018 at the earliest.

Although the proposal is only in its early stages, it is likely that the amount of leave will be at least two weeks and attract the same rate of pay as other types of family leave such as maternity, adoption paternity and shared parental leave. This is currently the lower of 90% of an employee’s gross weekly earnings and £140.98 per week.

At present (save in relation to stillbirth or miscarriages in respect of which maternity or paternity leave may still apply), the law only allows for “reasonable” unpaid time off to deal with an emergency relating to dependants, including his or her death, and it is down to each employer to determine what is ”reasonable” in the circumstances. ACAS has published guidance on Dealing with Bereavement in the Workplace (available here) but this is a good practice guide and not mandatory for employers.