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New statutory rights to paid leave for bereaved parents

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill has now received Royal Assent and has become the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 (“the Act”).

The Act is expected to come into force in 2020.

The Act will give parents a statutory right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Bereaved parents will also be able to claim statutory bereavement pay for this two-week period if they meet relevant eligibility criteria.

Until the Act comes into force there is no legal requirement for employers to provide bereavement leave in the UK. Workers do have a right to time off work to deal with an emergency relating to a dependant which could include the dependant’s death. However, there is no statutory right to be paid during such leave and the entitlement is only to a “reasonable” time off which is not defined.

Employers should continue to treat grieving employees sensitively and ACAS has produced some helpful guidance for employers on good practice which looks at how to manage an employee’s absence and return to work. Click here to read the guidance.

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