Sara Devinnie, Employment Law Specialist at Beacham Peacock, explains the difference in bereavement leave around the world.
A new law has been passed in the UK which will allow employees who suffer the loss of a child under 18 years old to take two weeks of paid leave. Parents who meet the qualifying criteria will be entitled to 2 weeks paid leave as a guaranteed minimum (although some employers may provide enhanced entitlements). The new law, known as Jack’s law, is likely to come into force in April 2020. The leave is paid at the lower of £151.20 per week or 90% of salary. Unfortunately, bearing in mind the circumstances of the leave, there are quite onerous notification provisions that the parent(s) must comply with in order to be entitled to the leave.
The new law will make the UK the most generous when it comes to paid bereavement leave for parents in comparison to the rest of the world, which offers the following:
Leave allowed? 2 days.
Paid? Yes, unless a casual employee.
The Australian government allows two days compassionate leave in the event of an immediate family member dying or suffering a life-threatening injury or illness. This leave can be taken continuously or as two separate days. Bereavement leave in Australia is paid for full and part time employees but unpaid for casual employees.
Leave allowed? 3-5 days.
In France, workers are entitled to three days fully paid leave for the death of an immediate family member (spouse, parent, sibling etc.) and five days for the death of a child. It is part of the law that the absence cannot be a reason for disciplinary action against the employee.
Leave allowed? 3 days.
New Zealand allows three days bereavement leave for parents who have lost a child. This is a minimum number, so many employers may allow more time at their discretion. All types of employees (part-time, full-time, casual) are entitled to this leave as long as they have worked for the employer for six months.
Leave allowed? 2-4 days.
Paid? Yes, unless it is extended.
The standard in Spain is two days paid bereavement leave. This can be increased to four days if the worker needs to travel for the funeral. Bereavement leave can be extended at the discretion of the employer, but it is likely to be unpaid.
Leave allowed? 5 days.
Paid? Yes, for the first 3 days.
Canada grants five days of bereavement leave in the event of a loss of a child, but only the first three days are paid at their regular wages, and only if they have been in employment for over three consecutive months. The five days can be taken any time between the day of the death and up to six weeks after the funeral.
Leave allowed? 1-3 days.
National law in the People’s Republic of China states that employers must give their workers between one and three days of bereavement leave with full pay. This law applies to the death of a parent, spouse or child.
Leave allowed? 2 days.
In Brazil, workers are entitled to two days fully paid bereavement leave in the event of a death of a spouse, sibling, parent or child.
Whilst the provisions may seem inadequate in light of the situation faced by bereaved parents, it is some comfort to know that the UK provisions of paid bereavement leave is the most generous.