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Employment law update: Parental Bereavement Bill

Bereaved parents

In a UK first, changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996 grant a new workplace right to paid leave for bereaved parents. Nick Rowe, head of Employment Law at Lodders, explains the Parental Bereavement Bill.

On 13 September 2018 the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill received Royal Assent. The signed Bill makes amendments to the Employment Rights Act 1996 and gives provision for paid leave for employees whose children have died.

What will change?

Prior to the signing of this Bill, employees had no legislative right to bereavement leave and compassionate leave would be granted at the discretion of their employer. The wording of the Employment Rights Act 1996 stated that employees were entitled to be permitted to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours in order to take action which is necessary “in consequence of the death of a dependant”. In practice, this meant that grieving family members were often only granted one or two days off before having to either return to work or use some of their annual leave.

Supporters of the new Parental Bereavement Bill have been campaigning for change for 8 years. Many supporters are parents themselves who have had to deal with the awful situation of losing a child, and then, have been forced quickly back into their workplace before they were ready.

New rights for parents

Under new legislation, bereaved parents are entitled to at least two weeks of paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. It is the first law of its kind in the UK and is expected to come into force in 2020.

After the signing of the Parental Bereavement Bill, Will Quince MP commented: “There can be few worse life experiences than the loss of a child and while most employers treat their staff with dignity and compassion when this tragedy occurs, all too often we have heard stories of grieving parents being forced back to work too early. I am delighted that parents in this awful situation will now have the protection of paid leave enshrined in law, and we should be very proud that the UK now has one of the best worker’s rights in this area in the world.”

Nick Rowe explains: “It goes without saying that such matters should be handled sensitively and with discretion and sympathy. In any event, treating an employee unfairly, or giving them the impression that they are being treated unfairly, will only serve to disenfranchise the individual concerned.”

It is important that you know your rights at work. Lodders’ team of employment solicitors offers accurate, focused and solution-based legal advice to a wide range of clients. We have forged an excellent reputation for advising SME’s, publicly owned companies, charities and other bodies in respect of all manner of employment related issues.


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If you’re a journalist looking for more information about Lodders, or to discuss a press release, please contact:
Diane Wood, V Formation on 07887 794507 or by email

Get in touch

For more information or advice, please contact Nick Rowe, email: or Jennifer Linford, email:, tel: 01242 229093.