The Parental Bereavement (Pay & Leave) Bill was published on 13th October, and is expected to come into force in 2020. Introduced by Kevin Hollinrake MP, it will give employed parents with a minimum of 26 weeks of continuous service a day-one right to two weeks of paid parental bereavement leave if they lose a child under the age of 18. Employers will be able to reclaim some or all of the costs, and the proposals were first outlined in the Conservative manifesto, published earlier in the year.
Many people will be surprised that legislation doesn’t already exist in this area. Though many employers have their own policies for supporting bereaved members of staff, the Employment Rights Act only states that employees should have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency concerning a dependent, including making arrangements following a death.
Business minister, Margot James said, ‘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 proposed legislation has been warmly welcomed by charities that support those suffering from the bereavement of a child. Chief executive of Cruse Bereavement Care, Debbie Kerslake commented, ‘It is vital that at such a distressing time those who are bereaved can take time away from work’.
You may already have your own policies and procedures that offer similar provisions, but this is a good opportunity for exemplary employers to consider their approach, and establish whether they’re giving their staff the best level of support during such a difficult time.
It goes without saying here that you need to consider the longer-term impact of bereavement, and how staff are supported after their two weeks of leave. It may be the case that you’ll roll out flexible working provisions to help the bereaved get back to work, or that you’ll offer counseling. As with all initiatives that impact that workforce, it’s not just a case of creating your policies. You need to make sure that your line managers are appropriately equipped to deal with sensitive situations and are confident in their roles.
A parental bereavement policy is something that everyone hopes that they’ll never have to consider, but now is the time to think about how you give your employees what they need during tough times. Taking action now though is likely to save you – and more pertinently – your staff a great deal of heartache in the longer term. If you want to review your approach then get in touch for a free no-obligation consultation.