Looking even further into the future than Christmas (but not wishing it away!), employers need to be aware that the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 received Royal Assent in September 2018. The Act means that employed parents (which will include primary carers) who lose a child under the age of 18 (which will include the stillbirth of a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy) will be entitled to two weeks’ leave to allow them time to grieve away from the workplace.
The entitlement to leave will kick in regardless of an employees’ length of service (i.e. this is a right from day one of employment), although it is likely that employees will need to have been in continuous employment for 26 weeks in order to receive statutory pay for the period of leave.
The regulations have not yet been finalised, but it is anticipated that parental bereavement leave and pay (where an employee is eligible) will be available as a single “block” or as two separate weeks. Employees will have a period of 56 weeks in which to use their entitlement, which allows for events such as anniversaries.
The government is due to place the final regulations before Parliament by the end of 2019, and the scheme is expected to come into force in 2020.
It is a positive step to support employees who are affected by the loss of a child, especially given the strain such tragic events can have on an individual’s mental health. Employers will need to make sure that their policies/ staff handbook are updated to acknowledge this change once it comes into effect.