Patricia Gibson, SNP MP for North Ayrshire & Arran, has tabled three key amendments to the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill, to be considered at Westminster next week.
The Private Members Bill, which has Government support, seeks to give bereaved parents the right to paid leave following the death of a child or stillborn baby.
There is currently no legal requirement for employers to provide paid time off for grieving parents, although many do. Under the Employment Rights Act, employees have a day-one right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, which could include making arrangements following the death of a dependant.
The proposed legislation would allow bereaved parents a minimum of two weeks paid leave, taken in weekly blocks during a minimum of 56 days following the death of a child under 18 years of age. Mrs Gibson’s amendments look to extend that right to include all bereaved parents, regardless of the age of the child. She is also proposing allowing more flexibility for when the leave is taken, and wants to see a requirement for Government to review extending the legislation to people on zero hours contracts and the self-employed.
Speaking on the issue, Mrs Gibson said:
“It is time the law recognised, with rights to paid leave, the loss of a child and its impact on bereaved parents. To be forced to bury your own child, no matter what age they are when they die, is such a life-shattering experience that leave for bereaved parents cannot simply be left to the good will of employers.
“All loss is hard to bear, but the loss of a child cannot be prepared for, and can never be truly and fully recovered from, as I know all too well. When you lose a child, the challenge is not whether you can go back to work on Monday, it is how to keep on living without them.
“The magnitude of such a loss must be, and should be, recognised by society, and protections and support must be enshrined in employment law, not just for those in regular salaried employment, but for those on zero hours contracts and the self-employed too.
“I am delighted that there has been such support for this Bill, and that there seems to be a real willingness on the part of the UK Government to legislate in this area, but it is vital that we get it right for all bereaved parents. I want to see this Bill pass, but with greater flexibility built in from the outset.”
Explanatory notes on the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2E1ktR2
Proposed amendments to the Bill can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/2Fw9cFE
The amendments will be debated at the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill Committee’s meeting on Wednesday 31 January at 2.00pm