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It is hard to imagine the pain of losing a child and the impact it has on an individual. The loss of a child is one of the most devastating events that an employee may have to face. This has now been recognised with the introduction of a new statutory entitlement. From April 2020 any parents, whose child aged under 18 dies, will be entitled to take to take two weeks bereavement leave, this will also cover parents who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy
Under this leave entitlement employees are able to take time off within the first 56 days of the child’s death without having to give a period of notice after this initial 56 days they will have to provide one week’s notice.
This leave can be taken anytime within 56 weeks of the date of the death of the child acknowledging that it is not just the immediate aftermath of the death that can be difficult; leave might also be needed later to attend an inquest or mark the first anniversary of the death of the child.
Employees will be entitled to be paid for this leave at a statutory minimum level that mirrors other family leave. This will apply to most employees who have parental responsibility of a child be they a parent, the partner of a child’s parent, have had “day to day” responsibility for a child, a surrogate parent or adopter.
Looking after an employee’s wellbeing is important at the best of times, but when dealing with situations such as this, it is even more so and providing certainty at a time of immense personal tragedy is paramount.
As with any legislation there are rights and entitlements in place and we would urge you to make sure your Parental Leave Policies are up to date, in order that employees can be aware of this entitlement without causing further distress at a difficult time.
It is important to make sure that any policy you have in place provides the best support for all those involved and recognises that grief is a process. An effective policy must look after an employee’s wellbeing in the long term, not only in the immediate aftermath but also once they have returned to work to help bring them back to their full potential.
If you need any assistance with this please get in touch.