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New draft bill expands employees’ right to parental bereavement leave

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Legal news
calendar 25 October 2020
globus Denmark

The Danish government has just proposed a new draft bill that expands employees’ rights in relation to the death of a child. The draft bill changes the current period of absence for employees making it possible to take up to 26 weeks of bereavement leave, while the current act only allows 14 weeks. With the new draft bill, the right to take bereavement leave will cover the loss of a child under 18 years, whereas the current act only covers the loss of a child under 32 weeks.

Following a citizen proposal suggesting an expansion of the right to bereavement leave, the Danish government and parties of the parliament have decided to propose the draft bill. The draft bill includes significant changes to the Danish Maternity Leave Act which henceforth affects both employers and employees.

The new draft bill includes several significant changes:

  • The right to bereavement leave is extended from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.

  • The right to bereavement leave will apply to all parents, who lose a child under the age of 18 or have a stillborn child. The same will apply for adoptive parents and future adoptive parents.

  • In case of competitive parental leave rights, where the right to bereavement leave regarding one child conflicts with the right to parental leave for another child, it will be possible to postpone the parental leave and instead take bereavement leave.

In cases where parents give their child up for adoption, will the legal status remain the same. This means that parents who give up their child no later than 32 weeks after birth, have the right to 14 weeks of bereavement leave.

What will employees’ expanded rights to bereavement leave mean for employers?

The length of absence of the new bereavement leave will most likely have the greatest effect on employers.

Employers are entitled to get notified as soon as possible if employees want to take bereavement leave. Employees are also obligated to inform their employer on the expected length of bereavement leave. As something new, employees can now prolong and shorten the length of leave, given that they inform the employer. Hence employers can take the employees' absence into account when administering and coordinating the workload.

If employees wish to take bereavement leave, then all former orientations regarding absence due to parental leave will lapse. In such cases, employees must notify the employer again.

During the bereavement leave, employees have the right to maternity/paternity leave benefits, provided that they meet the requirements. Foreign companies can claim reimbursement if they pay salary to employees that fulfill these requirements.

The new draft bill regarding expanded right to bereavement leave is currently being processed in the Danish parliament and is scheduled to enter into force 1 January 2021. We will follow the development closely and return as soon as there are new developments.

IUNO’s opinion

The new draft bill expands employees’ right to bereavement leave and is therefore going to affect employers. Amongst other things, employees will be entitled to a leave of absence that is 12 weeks longer than the current law and will have the opportunity to regulate the length of absence along the way. As the new draft bill obligates employees to notify the employer as soon as possible if they chose to take bereavement leave, employers now have the opportunity to administer and coordinate the workload.

IUNO recommends that employers review their politics and action plans in this area, so they are prepared for the situation of employees losing a child. It is important that employers can react quickly and can guide their employees in these situations. Furthermore, employers should also be capable of adjusting the workload, so they can meet their employees’ needs as best as possible.

[L 20 Draft bill on changes to the maternity law, law on sickness benefits, and other laws]

Following a citizen proposal suggesting an expansion of the right to bereavement leave, the Danish government and parties of the parliament have decided to propose the draft bill. The draft bill includes significant changes to the Danish Maternity Leave Act which henceforth affects both employers and employees.

The new draft bill includes several significant changes:

  • The right to bereavement leave is extended from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.

  • The right to bereavement leave will apply to all parents, who lose a child under the age of 18 or have a stillborn child. The same will apply for adoptive parents and future adoptive parents.

  • In case of competitive parental leave rights, where the right to bereavement leave regarding one child conflicts with the right to parental leave for another child, it will be possible to postpone the parental leave and instead take bereavement leave.

In cases where parents give their child up for adoption, will the legal status remain the same. This means that parents who give up their child no later than 32 weeks after birth, have the right to 14 weeks of bereavement leave.

What will employees’ expanded rights to bereavement leave mean for employers?

The length of absence of the new bereavement leave will most likely have the greatest effect on employers.

Employers are entitled to get notified as soon as possible if employees want to take bereavement leave. Employees are also obligated to inform their employer on the expected length of bereavement leave. As something new, employees can now prolong and shorten the length of leave, given that they inform the employer. Hence employers can take the employees' absence into account when administering and coordinating the workload.

If employees wish to take bereavement leave, then all former orientations regarding absence due to parental leave will lapse. In such cases, employees must notify the employer again.

During the bereavement leave, employees have the right to maternity/paternity leave benefits, provided that they meet the requirements. Foreign companies can claim reimbursement if they pay salary to employees that fulfill these requirements.

The new draft bill regarding expanded right to bereavement leave is currently being processed in the Danish parliament and is scheduled to enter into force 1 January 2021. We will follow the development closely and return as soon as there are new developments.

IUNO’s opinion

The new draft bill expands employees’ right to bereavement leave and is therefore going to affect employers. Amongst other things, employees will be entitled to a leave of absence that is 12 weeks longer than the current law and will have the opportunity to regulate the length of absence along the way. As the new draft bill obligates employees to notify the employer as soon as possible if they chose to take bereavement leave, employers now have the opportunity to administer and coordinate the workload.

IUNO recommends that employers review their politics and action plans in this area, so they are prepared for the situation of employees losing a child. It is important that employers can react quickly and can guide their employees in these situations. Furthermore, employers should also be capable of adjusting the workload, so they can meet their employees’ needs as best as possible.

[L 20 Draft bill on changes to the maternity law, law on sickness benefits, and other laws]

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Anders

Etgen Reitz

Partner

Søren

Hessellund Klausen

Partner

Kirsten

Astrup

Associate

Nina

Kumari

Associate

Cecillie

Cathrine Groth Henriksen

Associate

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