We have a vital opportunity to improve a new law which will introduce paid statutory leave for all parents in the UK who are bereaved of a child. Please spend a few minutes responding to the government’s consultation on this important issue; the greater the number of submissions, the stronger our message will be to ministers and officials.
The government is asking for responses by 8 June.
If it is passed by Parliament, The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill will mean that employers will be obliged to give all bereaved parents at least two weeks’ leave away from work; parents will be eligible for statutory pay during this period, much in the way that new parents are able to access paid maternity and paternity leave.
While we acknowledge that many bereaved parents will need much more than two weeks’ leave from work to come to terms with the loss of their child, we believe that this bill is a positive step towards the system that would like to be put in place. Together for Short Lives, along with our partners in the National Bereavement Alliance, supports it. However, we think that there are a few important improvements that MPs and peers should make to it before it is passed into law. These include:
- making the leave more flexible by extending the window in which bereaved parents can take their leave from 56 days after the death to 56 weeks
- allowing parents to be able to take their leave in shorter blocks than one week
- making sure that all those who have a parental relationship to the child would be eligible, including foster carers and recognised kinship carers
- making sure that parents bereaved of young people up to the age of 25 are eligible to take the leave; the current age threshold in the bill is 18
- making sure that bereaved parents are not asked to provide prior notice to their employer if they need to take statutory leave.
The results of this consultation process will inform the House of Lords’ stages of the bill – and the regulations that the government will draft to set out how the new law will work. Your response will be crucial in sending a message to government and to parliament that the bill needs to bring about more flexible bereavement leave. This is the very least that parents facing their worst nightmare deserve.
Please also inform Together for Short Lives’ response to the consultation by emailing your views to firstname.lastname@example.org by 21 May.