Written by Marie-Clare Swallow, Senior HR Consultant
A Private Members’ Bill has had two readings in Parliament which seeks to provide parents with two weeks’ statutory paid leave following the death of a child.
There is currently no defined period of compassionate or bereavement leave on the death of a child or indeed any relative or dependent. The legislation only entitles an employee to be permitted by his/her employer to take a reasonable amount of time off during the employee’s working hours in consequence of the death of a dependent. Based on case law and legal guidance, this leave is only really designed to deal with practical issues, such as making funeral arrangements and reasonable time off would typically just be a few days at most. This type of leave is also unpaid.
This also conflicts with the right to full maternity and paternity rights of parents who experience the loss of a baby through stillbirth.
Any employee’s entitlement to compassionate leave is inevitably dependent on how generous his/her particular employer is willing or able to be with their time and/or money. Some employers are less flexible and sensitive than others and therefore this Bill is looking to put all employers on an equal footing whilst giving every employee the choice to take time off to start to come to terms with their grief, without feeling the pressure of having to return to work.
It will be some time before we know if this will indeed become law but certainly something to look out for.
In the meantime, if you require any advice and guidance in situations where your employees may be facing difficult personal circumstances, please contact your HR Consultancy team.