Grieving parents may be granted right to paid bereavement leave

Employment lawyer, Tessa Robinson, has spearheaded a response to the Government’s consultation on parental bereavement leave. The response, submitted on behalf of the Employment Lawyers Association, will help inform the Government as it considers whether grieving parents should be granted the legal right to paid bereavement leave

 Man and woman grieving after losing a child

In March, The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published a consultation on parental bereavement leave to seek views on the draft Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill, which is currently being considered in Parliament.

If approved, the Bill would create a statutory right for employed parents to take time off work with pay following the loss of a child.

The Bill provides for parents to take a minimum of two weeks of Parental Bereavement Leave within a period of at least 56 days (eight weeks), beginning with the date of the death of a child.

Ms. Robinson, a Solicitor at law firm Furley Page, said: "The loss of a child is extremely traumatic for parents and many people suffer grief in different ways. Managing that grief in the workplace can be extremely difficult for employees and employers alike, and can seriously affect performance and the parent's physical and emotional wellbeing.

"As well as possibly needing to take time off work, employees may find their performance is affected when they return, or they may be temporarily unable to perform their role. At present, there is no specific legal entitlement to paid time off in these circumstances, forcing bereaved parents to either return to work or take a period of sick or annual leave.

"The Employment Lawyers Association put together a working party to respond to the consultation document issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on parental bereavement pay and leave. The ELA's response raised a number of key points for the Government to consider, including:

  • Seeking to amend the definition of "bereaved parent" to include those who have day-to-day care of the child, but who are not biological or natural parents of the child (thereby to include step-parents, grandparents, and potentially members of the wider family)
  • Highlighting concerns that the provisions in the current draft Bill mean that there would be no right to statutory pay if parents opted to take the leave as days rather than weeks, which could amount to indirect religious discrimination
  • Proposing that the leave can be taken at any time within 52 weeks of the death of the child, recognising the individual nature of bereavement and the varying circumstances which may surround the death.

"We hope that The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will carefully consider the points raised in the ELA's response and we look forward to the publication of the Government's response."

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