Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2015: First Stage

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for paid bereavement leave.

Cuirim an Bille seo os comhair na Dála. Cuirfidh mé in iúl don Teach na sonraí atá sa Bhille. As the Minister is aware, there is no legislative provision for bereavement leave. While the public sector provides for such leave and employers in the private sector often take a compassionate approach when a member of staff loses a family member, there remains a grey area in law. This is not helpful to the employee or employer. It appears that employers who provide bereavement leave do so on the basis of the force majeure provision in the Parental Leave Act. Force majeure provides an entitlement to specified and limited leave in the event of a family crisis but does not give an entitlement to leave following the death of a family member.

Few greater crises can arise in a person's life than the loss of a family member. When a death occurs employees are understandably unsure of what their leave entitlements are, particularly in employments in the casual or temporary sectors. This is a deeply unjust position to place employees in during what is, for most people, a deeply distressing and difficult time in their lives. To my mind, providing for limited paid bereavement leave is the compassionate and responsible measure for legislators to take. It also rebalances the equilibrium of rights and responsibilities of employees and employers. It is wrong that such a basic entitlement should be within the gift of individual employers. Employees who have lost a family member should not have to negotiate a short number of days for bereavement leave.

Ireland's employment market is becoming increasingly casualised and there are employers who do not give bereavement leave. Moreover, when it is given, in some instances it can remain unpaid. My Bill provides for leave on the grounds of bereavement. An employee would be entitled to leave with pay from his or her employment owing to the death of a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, brother, sister, a person in respect of whom the employee is in loco parentis or persons in other classes already prescribed under force majeure provisions. The Bill will provide that when an employee takes bereavement leave he or she shall, as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter, confirm that he or she has taken such leave and the notice shall specify the dates on which it was taken. It will contain a statement of the facts entitling the employee to bereavement leave. Bereavement leave shall not exceed three days in any period of 12 consecutive months or five days in any period of 36 consecutive months.

It appears that private sector employers are already taking a steer from the force majeure provisions in the Parental Leave Act. I have simply replicated the provision with the intent that providing a statutory right to paid bereavement leave will be in step with responsible employers and raise the bar for those who do not currently give paid bereavement leave to their staff. This legislation seeks to formalise a practice that is already in place in many sectors and an entitlement that employees should have.

Is am nó tréimhse uafásach deacair é d'aon chlann, nó i saol aon duine, nuair a chailleann siad duine a bhí siad mór leo, go háirithe duine den chlann. Is daoine iad seo a bhíonn siad i dteagmháil leo gach uile lá. De ghnáth, déanann an fostóir an rud ceart. De ghnáth, faigheann daoine am chun déileáil leis an mbrón agus leis an uaigneas a bhaineann leis an gcailliúint sin. Ach uaireanta ní bhíonn sé sin i gceist. Freisin, ní cheart go mbeadh ar dhaoine idirbheartaíocht a dhéanamh le fostóir agus iad i lár ghéarchéim saoil. Ba cheart don Rialtas agus don Stát a rá gur féidir le daoine am saor a bheith acu ón obair agus go bhfuil siad i dteideal dul abhaile agus déileáil leis an uaigneas gan a gcuid tuarastail a thógaint uathu. Níl i gceist ach trí lá i ngach bliain, nó cúig lá i ngach trí bhliain. Bheinn buíoch dá dtabharfadh an Rialtas tacaíocht don Bhille seo.

Is the Bill being opposed?

Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Question put and agreed to.