The UK Government has announced proposals intended to provide paid leave for bereaved parents.

The Employment Rights Act currently provides for employees to take a “reasonable” amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including making arrangements following the death of a dependant. What is “reasonable” depends on the circumstances, but in practice the employer and employee agree the length of time off. Many employers also offer paid leave in such circumstances and so will be unaffected by the Government’s proposals.

The new right will be the first time that employers will be under a statutory obligation to provide paid leave for grieving parents. The proposals are included in the Parental Bereavement Pay and Leave Bill, which received its first reading in Parliament yesterday and which will be debated during its second reading in October. The Bill has yet to be made available outside Parliament and may not be publicly available until the Autumn.

The Government has said that it will work with employers, employee representatives and campaigners on behalf of working families during the Summer to better understand the needs of bereaved parents and employers. Given that the second reading of the Bill in October is only the initial part of the Parliamentary process, it seems unlikely that the proposals – if they are approved by Parliament − will become law until 2018 at the earliest.