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Government listens to our call for more flexible bereavement leave

News and comment

We are delighted that the government has listened to calls for more flexible and inclusive terms in parental bereavement leave legislation and today announced that the new Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act will also entitle primary carers for children to bereavement leave.

The new law, which will entitle employees bereaved of a child to at least two weeks’ paid leave following the death of their child, has been extended to include all primary carers for children, including adopters, foster parents and guardians.

Additionally, in line with a request from Together for Short Lives, members of the National Bereavement Alliance and other organisations, the period in which parents can take these two weeks’ leave has been extended from 56 days to 56 weeks to allow time for important moments such as anniversaries

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act, which received royal assent in July, is expected to come into force in 2020 and will provide crucial support and protection for parents at what is an extremely challenging time. While many employers demonstrate fairness and compassion when an employee is bereaved of a child, the new law will mean that paid leave is no longer left to the discretion of the employer.

Other improvements to the law include:

  • leave can be taken either in 1 block (of 1 or 2 weeks) or as 2 separate blocks of 1 week
  • notice requirements will be flexible so that leave can be taken without prior notice very soon after the child’s death
  • employers will not be entitled to request a copy of death certificate to use as evidence

Announcing the news today (2 Nov), Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst, said: “Dealing with the loss of a child is an awful tragedy which we recognise people will deal with differently. It is important this new law is designed so that people are given the space and respect to grieve in their own way.”

As the bill has progressed through Parliament, Together for Short Lives – along with the National Bereavement Alliance and other organisations – has campaigned on the importance of having paid leave following the death of a child to allow parents some time to grieve. In June we submitted our response to the government’s consultation, outlining the ways in which we felt the terms could be improved to provide families with greater support.

Lyndon Ashmore, Campaigns Officer at Together for Short Lives, said: “We’re delighted that the government has listened to our calls to broaden the entitlements of the act. This is a fantastic win for families who deserve the time and flexibility they need at an extremely distressing time. The regulations granted by the government represent vital steps toward more effective and meaningful legislation that is sensitive to the needs of parents bereaved of a child.

“We’d like to thank again those who have campaigned successfully for this vital reform, including bereaved parents Lucy Herd and Will Quince MP, and Kevin Hollinrake MP, who introduced the bill to Parliament.”

You can read Together for Short Lives’ response to the government’s parental bereavement consultation here.

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