A Death in the Family?
Currently there is no right for UK employees to take paid bereavement leave. There is a right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, but there is nothing specific to help employees grieve. Some employers provide paid bereavement leave as part of their benefits package, but there is no legal requirement to do so.
However, a new parental bereavement bill has been presented to Parliament. It started as a Private Members’ Bill, but has been adopted by the Government and is expected to become law in 2020.
The new bill will provide a statutory right to take up to two weeks of paid leave for employees after the death of a child under the age of 18. However, it will not apply to other relations or to children aged 18 or over.
Employees will have a right to the leave regardless of how long they have worked for an employer and will have a right to pay, provided they have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service. Small businesses will be able to recover all of the pay from government while large businesses will be able to reclaim most of it. The bill does not currently state what rate of pay will be covered, but from the way it is worded, I think it may be that they will apply the standard weekly rate as used for Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental leave (currently £140.98 per week.)
We will have to wait and see how the Bill develops. If I am right, the weekly pay rate may not seem very much for someone trying to deal with the devastating situation they may find themselves in, but there is nothing to stop employers enhancing the length or payment level of the leave if they wish.
If you would like to review the statutory leave arrangements you have in place for your employees, please get in touch.
Posted on 23 Oct 2017