Ministers back plans for statutory bereavement leave for parents

Private Member’s Bill wins support

Proposals outlined last week would enable parents who have lost a child to take two weeks’ leave in order to grieve.

Under current employment laws, bereaved mums and dads do not have an automatic right to time off, although there is an expectation that businesses will allow “reasonable” leave in the event of such a tragedy.

The changes proposed, which would take effect across England, Wales and Scotland, would allow parents who have lost a child to request a fortnight’s paid absence.

Small businesses would be entitled to claim the full costs back from the Government, with larger operations allowed to recoup around 90 per cent.

The announcement follows lobbying by a number of MPs from across the political spectrum for the introduction of statutory bereavement leave for parents.

A Private Member’s Bill, first drawn up by Conservative backbencher Kevin Hollindrake, is set to be debated in the House of Commons this week.

The legislation he is proposing would mean that full-time and part-time employees with more than 26 weeks’ continuous service would be entitled to request the leave in the event of the death of a child below the age of 18.

Francine Bates, chief executive of the Lullaby Trust, an organisation which supports bereaved parents, welcomed the proposal.

“Losing a child is one of the most devastating experiences that a parent can go through and it is vitally important that they are supported by their employer and not made to return to work before they are ready,” she said.

Business Minister Margot James said that the leave would extend rights far beyond those available in many other countries.