New advice has been published by ACAS to employers on how to support parents with ill or premature babies. The guidance recommends that employees are informed of their rights to statutory leave, such as shared parental leave, and encourages employers to be flexible in respect of allowing employees time off on their return to attend their children’s follow up hospital appointments and treatment. It also deals with the tricky situation of what to say to work colleagues and recommends compassion, sensitivity and being discrete. The guidance is not legally binding but is evidence of good practice.
In addition, a new bill has been published which aims to ensure that parents who suffer the bereavement of a child under the age of 18 (including still birth after 24 weeks) will receive two weeks’ paid leave to enable them to have time off to grieve. If the parent loses more than one child they will be given time off in respect of each child. There is currently no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave. Whether to grant leave is down to the individual employer.
Under the proposals all employees would be entitled to receive parental bereavement leave, regardless of their length of service. Those who have 26 weeks’ continuous service will also benefit from statutory parental bereavement pay at 90% of average earnings or the statutory rate, whichever is the lower. Employers will be able to claim the cost of such pay, in full or part from the Government. It would also become unlawful for employers to place the employee at a detriment, dismiss them or make them redundant on the basis of having taken such leave. The bill has Government backing and is expected to become law in 2020.
The law does not replace any rights under existing legislation such as maternity leave but it will make things a little easier for those parents going through a very difficult period.
If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this article, we have specific employment law expertise in advising in this area. For further advice, please contact Angela Gorton or a member of the Employment Team.
Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.