A new workplace right to paid leave for bereaved parents was officially enshrined in law on 13 September, 2018 as the Parental Leave and Pay Bill achieved Royal Assent.
The first law of its kind in the UK will support those affected by the tragedy of childhood mortality and is expected to come into force in 2020. The new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act will give all employed parents a day-one right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24-weeks of pregnancy.
This new law honours a Conservative Party manifesto commitment to introduce a new entitlement to parental bereavement leave. Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said, ”This law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history. Losing a child is an unimaginable trauma. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone which so many have campaigned for. I’d like to thank all the people who have helped make this law a reality, including the brave parent campaigners who have spoken out about their own experiences.”
Will Quince MP, who first brought this issue to the fore said, “There can be few worse life experiences than the loss of a child and while most employers treat their staff with dignity and compassion when this tragedy occurs, all too often we have heard stories of grieving parents being forced back to work too early. I am delighted that parents in this awful situation will now have the protection of paid leave enshrined in law, and we should be very proud that the UK now has one of the best workers’ rights in this area in the world.”
While this is obviously good news for those unfortunate enough to lose a child, I for one am saddened that in a prosperous civilised country like the UK we have to resort to the law to force employers to provide support for a bereaved parent. Surely anyone with any decency at all would do this as a matter of course and it is a sad reflection on our society that it has been necessary for the British government to intervene.
David Jordan, Deputy Editor.