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It is expected that a statutory right to take up to two weeks’ paid leave after the death of a child will become law in 2020.
It is proposed that parents will be able to take two weeks of paid time off in the event of the death of a child under 18.
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, although the bill does not currently state what rate of pay will apply.
People suffering this dreadful experience react differently, and while some parents prefer to carry on working, others need to take time off and will benefit from this support which gives them time and space away from work to grieve at such a desperately sad time.
At present, the law does not expressly provide any right to time off following the death of a child, although the Employment Rights Act allows employees to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.
Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy for the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, our professional body), said past research suggested that many employers already provided their staff with paid bereavement leave. “This new law will build on this so all bereaved parents of children under the age of 18 will have the reassurance of knowing they don’t have to worry about work while they grieve for loved ones in the immediate aftermath of such a tragedy,” he said.
Francine Bates, chief executive of charity The Lullaby Trust, added: “We warmly welcome this new law giving paid leave to bereaved parents. Losing a child is one of the most devastating experiences that a parent can go through and it is vital that they are supported by their employer and not made to return to work before they are ready.”
The bill effectively makes good on a promise made by Theresa May ahead of the Conservative manifesto launch this summer to create a right to leave in the event of the death of a child.
“We want parents to feel properly supported by their employer when they go through the deeply distressing ordeal of losing a child,” said business minister Margot James. “That’s why the government is backing this bill, which goes significantly further than most other countries in providing this kind of workplace right for employees.”
A survey run on behalf of Child Bereavement UK revealed that almost a third (32 per cent) of those who had experienced the death of a loved one in the last five years felt they were not treated with compassion by their employer.