Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill in Final Stages

Published on: 07/08/2018

A parliamentary bill is now in the final stages of being agreed that will allow bereaved parents the right to at least two weeks of paid leave. Following Royal Assent, the aim is that the new right will come into force by April 2020, although it is hoped that employers will take note beforehand.

There is currently no automatic right for parents who have lost a child to paid leave and it is discretionary amongst employers as to what time is given. This of course means variation between employers, resulting in some bereaved parents feeling much more supported than others.

Quoted from the BBC news article written back in May, the SNP’s Patricia Gibson, whose baby was stillborn at full term, said two weeks was “not very long, but given that currently there is no entitlement at all – it offers a start”.
“To have to face the death of your son or daughter with no entitlement to paid leave under the law is a terrible injustice that generations of people before us have suffered,” she told MPs.

MP Kevin Hollinrake, who tabled the bill in May, said that he “hoped employers would always offer more than two weeks.”

Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong when it comes to grief. We have spoken to many bereaved parents who can vary from wanting to get back to work straight away to feel some kind of normality (on some occasions later regretting this decision), to finding even the thought of returning agonisingly difficult. It is hard to imagine facing those colleagues / employers who you thought you would be introducing your new baby to. The contrast of that previous expectation and the reality of what has happened is incredibly painful to bear.
For this reason, we hope that employers will recognise the new legislation as a step towards helping bereaved parents and ensure that employees are given as much support as possible. This is a really helpful leaflet from SANDS for employers.

A well supported employee is much more likely to feel they can return to work, whereas work pressures without support on top of already crippling grief is likely to have the opposite effect.

Grief does not follow a linear pattern and flexibility is also important. Perhaps a bereaved parent will need their paid leave after already returning to work. Perhaps they will need to return in stages.

Despite being a short time when considering grief following the loss of a child, we very much hope that once the bill passes through that employers will offer bereaved parents the support they need in being able to return to work when the time is right and help them in feeling able to stay.