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Paid leave for bereaved parents will be law by 2020

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Alice Sanderson, September 24, 2018

A new law providing the right to paid leave for bereaved parents has received royal assent.

The new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act is the first of its kind in the UK, and is expected to come into force in 2020. It will give employed parents two weeks paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Years of campaigning

There is current no statutory entitlement to paid leave for parents who lose a child.

The introduction of the law follows years of campaigning by bereaved mum Lucy Herd. Ms Herd lost her 23-month-old son Jack in 2010, when he fell into a garden pond and drowned. Following the tragedy, they discovered that her husband was only allowed three days off work, including one day for the funeral itself.

Ms Herd had campaigned for a month’s paid leave for bereaved parents but said she is ‘grateful’ for the change in law and it was a ‘wonderful feeling’ to know that bereaved parents in the future will not suffer as they did.

‘Important that parents are given time’

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, introduced the bill to parliament as a private member’s bill in July 2017.

Following the announcement, he said: “Losing a child is the most dreadful and unimaginable experience that any parent could suffer, and it is right that grieving parents will now be given time to start to come to terms with their loss.”

His words were echoed by the Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care, Steven Wibberley, who said: “We are delighted that this bill has been approved as it will make a huge difference to bereaved parents whose lives have been shattered by the death of a child.

“It is important that parents are given time to grieve in the aftermath of a child’s death and this new law recognises this.”

Similarly, Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust, which supports bereaved parents, said: “This new law is a big step forward in recognising the needs of bereaved families in our society and will help to ensure that parents are not unduly pressurised to return to work immediately following the death of their child.”

Spokesperson for First4Lawyers, Andrew Cullwick, said: “We are very pleased to hear that the government are taking the steps needed to help bereaved parents. It is terrible that the law has been allowed to neglect such a terrible loss for so long. We’re glad that bereaved parents will now have help with their loss, rather than being forced to quickly return to work for financial reasons.”