On 13th October the Government issued a press release declaring proposals for the introduction of a new leave allowance which is said to be one of the most generous in the world.

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill is expected to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 20th October and once Royal Assent is achieved the Act will introduce new rights to workers in the UK providing two weeks paid leave to bereaved parents.

At present employees are entitled only to unpaid emergency leave in connection with making arrangements following the death of a dependent. Whilst many employers may well offer employees some contractually paid benefits in such tragic circumstances, there is no current statutory obligation to give leave beyond that which is necessary and no obligation to pay the employee at the time.

In order to qualify for the new Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay the employee must be the bereaved parent of a child under the age of 18. Additional regulations will provide further detail as to eligibility and those regulations are also likely to make the rights available in circumstances where a child is stillborn from 24 weeks. Parents will have a right to a period of two weeks paid leave, to be taken by giving the employer adequate notice and the leave must commence before 56 days from the date of death. Notice may be required in writing by the employer if they need it and of course this may well be applied for alongside a period of unpaid leave and, in some cases, sick leave.

Once Royal Assent is granted and the Bill enacted employers would be sensible to make changes to  employee handbooks and family rights policies so you remain compliant with the new rules and your employees have somewhere to turn to check their rights if needs be.

In tragic circumstances such as these we are confident you’ll want your notice requirements and policies to be as clear and uncomplicated as possible so employees can apply with ease; our Opsium advisers will be on hand to make recommendations for changes to your handbooks as soon as this Act comes into force. Keep following our newsletter for updates or give us a call on 0161 603 2174 for more information.