I recently contributed to the final debate on the measures on Parental Bereavement Pay and Leave before they come into effect on 6th April this year. These long overdue measures introduce legal protection of two weeks statutory paid leave for parents who have suffered the loss of a child. I welcome the opportunity I had to work across party lines over several years to ensure these measures made it onto the statute book.
Whilst many employers are sympathetic and supportive of employees who have recently lost a child, securing parental bereavement leave with pay will no longer be down to the goodwill and discretion of an employer. Bereaved parents must have the scale and tragedy of coping with the loss of their son or daughter suitably recognised and their employment rights must be protected in law.
I was delighted that my amendment to these measures - to offer the same protection to parents who have suffered a stillbirth - are included in these new protections. The two weeks of paid bereavement leave for parents protected by these measures does not go as far as I or many people would like. However, it represents a start and a vast improvement on the situation up to this point, which is that bereaved parents have never had any statutory right to parental bereavement leave – paid or unpaid.
I look forward to these measures, welcome though they are, to being extended in scope in the not too distant future. Whilst I welcome the flexibility as to when bereaved parents can take this leave, I would like to see these new provisions being offered to all bereaved parents who have to bury their offspring – regardless of their offspring’s age. Whilst I will continue to push to increase the scope of these measures, I am pleased that at least, in Westminster, we have made a start in protecting the terms and conditions of employment for bereaved parents.
You can watch my speech below.