The parental bereavement bill, which was launched in parliament recently, aims to ensure that all parents who suffer the death of a child will be entitled to statutory paid bereavement leave.
At present, there is no legal requirement in the UK for companies to offer paid leave for a parent whose child dies. This has led to widespread calls from parent, employee and family groups to change the current system and introduce new laws that increase parental rights in the event of a bereavement.
Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake introduced the new bill into parliament in July, stating that it was a highly important bill aimed at assisting parents who have to deal with the tragic loss of a child. He added that he has represented many constituents who have lost children and that he is honoured to be able to help such parents in their time of grief in any way he can.
The current law, which comes under the Employment Rights Act, states that all staff have the right to take a reasonable number of days off work to deal with emergencies involving their dependents. This includes any time required to make arrangements that follow the death of a dependent, such as planning a funeral and dealing with other issues.
The idea of what constitutes a reasonable amount of time can differ dramatically, and every case is unique. The added stress to parents of worrying about their job or income at a time of bereavement has led many campaigners to call for clarification and improvements to the current law surrounding paid time off work.
Under the current system, the amount of time off is agreed between the employee and their employer. The new bill, if passed, will introduce statutory paid leave for employed parents who have suffered the death of a child.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is looking to work closely with various groups to better understand the shortfalls in the current system and to offer bereaved parents the support they require at this difficult time.
The government will consult with groups and bodies, including employee representatives, campaigners, working family organisations and employers, to ensure all needs are carefully considered. The second reading of the bill is expected to take place during the autumn of 2017.
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