Together for Short Lives has welcomed the news that the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill has now passed its third reading in the House of Lords. This was the bill’s final Parliamentary stage and it will become law when it receives Royal Assent. The new law will entitle parents bereaved of a child to at least two week’s paid leave following the death of their child, providing crucial support and protection for parents at what is an extremely challenging time.
As the bill has progressed through Parliament, Together for Short Lives has highlighted how important paid leave is following the death of a child to allow parents some time to grieve and arrange a funeral. Some will need to time to attend an inquest. While many employers demonstrate fairness and compassion at this challenging time, the new law will mean that paid leave is no longer left to the discretion of the employer.
Andrew Fletcher, CEO of Together for Short Lives, said:
“I am delighted that this bill, which Together for Short Lives has been campaigning for, has completed its passage through Parliament. Losing a child is an extremely distressing experience and parents deserve the time and flexibility they need to grieve in a way that is right for them. I congratulate and thank those who have campaigned tirelessly for this vital reform, including bereaved parents Lucy Herd and Will Quince MP, and Kevin Hollinrake MP, who introduced the bill to Parliament.
While the bill has now passed through parliamentary stages, the government will still be taking time to reflect on the submissions they received to its consultation on this issue. Ministers will ask Parliament to approve separate regulations relating to the new law once this process is complete. Together for Short Lives would like the regulations to:
- extend the time in which parents can take their leave from 56 days following the child’s death to 56 weeks
- broaden the eligibility for leave from biological parents to legal guardians caring for the child, working grandparents, aunts and uncles who are significantly affected by the death
- bring about a flexible system whereby leave can be taken as individual days, rather than in one-week blocks
- extend the leave to self-employed people
- make sure that parents bereaved of a child up to the age of 25 can access paid leave.
Andrew Fletcher said:
“I would still like to see the government go further in regulations to make sure no family is left behind at this tragic time. We look forward to seeing the government’s response to the consultation which we hope broadens the entitlements to provide more families with this added security and support.”