New statutory right to paid time off for bereaved parents confirmed
As a result of campaigning from MPs and parental rights groups, the government is introducing a legal right for parents to take an extended time off work and be paid, where eligible.
The Parental Bereavement Act 2018 has introduced the right for employees to take two weeks of leave where a working parent suffers the loss of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The leave can be taken immediately following the bereavement or within 56 days of this date. There will also be a right to be paid for this period should the parent meet specific eligibility criteria.
There are still several important details that are yet to be confirmed. For example, the eligibility criteria to receive pay and the rate of pay that employees will be entitled to, ie whether this will be the statutory rate or not, is currently unknown. Also, the Act itself does not specify who will be classed as a ‘parent’ and it is unclear whether this will include those who have caring responsibilities for a child, such as foster parents, adoptive parents or legal guardians.
These rights are expected to be introduced by 2020, although the government has not yet given a specific date or timeline.