A new workplace right to paid leave for bereaved parents has been officially enshrined in law after the Parental Leave and Pay Bill achieving Royal Assent. The new law, which is expected to come into force in 2020, was welcomed by charities helping bereaved parents to cope with the distress of losing a child.

The new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act, gives qualifying employed parents the right to claim bereavement pay and leave. The Act will give all employed parents a day-one right to 2 weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

The new legislation will replace existing rules, where employees have a day-one right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency such as the death of a dependant. However, there is no statutory definition of what is a reasonable amount of time and this could give rise to potential disagreements between an employer and employee at a most difficult time.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst, said:

‘This law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history. Losing a child is an unimaginable trauma. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone which so many have campaigned for.’