When an employee experiences a bereavement there will often be knock-on consequences in the workplace. They may need to take time off with no notice or be less able to perform their work effectively. The laws relating to employees and the death of a dependant are changing. Here’s what you need to know.
Employment Rights Act
The law governing this area is the Employment Rights Act. Under current legislation, employees have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off without pay in the event of an emergency involving a dependant. This would include time off to make arrangements on the death of a dependant. What is ‘reasonable’ in this context, however, is not defined in the legislation. Such an arrangement would usually be agreed between employer and employee on an ad hoc basis. The involvement of Acas or an employment tribunal would usually be a last resort in resolving disputes in such cases.
The new, government-sponsored Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill is set to change the law for employees who suffer the loss of a child. The Bill, which got its second reading in Parliament in autumn 2017, will ensure they receive paid leave for the very first time.
Kevin Hollinrake MP, the sponsor of the Bill, commented ‘This is such an important Bill for parents going through the most terrible of times. There is little any of us can do to help, but at least we can make sure that every employer will give them time to grieve.’
You can find helpful advice on this area in the Acas good practice guide to managing bereavement.