Margaret Greenwood MP backs paid bereavement leave for parents after the death of a child: ‘Parents must have the time to bury their child and grieve’

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13 Sep 2017
In a debate at Westminster Margaret Greenwood MP, Shadow Minister for Employment, has called for the introduction of at least 2 weeks paid bereavement leave for parents who have suffered the death of a child.

Parents are currently allowed by law to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of leave following the death of an immediate family member, but there is no legal definition of how long a period that is and employers are not required to pay staff who take time off following a death.

In the UK in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, over 10,000 babies, children and young people up to the age of 25 died.

There were over 3,000 infant deaths (of children under 1 year old) in the UK in 2015. 67 of those infant deaths were on Merseyside.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“The death of a child seems to go against the natural order of things. A parent expects their child to outlive them and to lose a child is a traumatic experience.

“Some people may find it helpful to return quickly to work, but others may need much longer before they are ready to start work again.

“Many employers treat requests for compassionate leave sympathetically and do not try to force their employees to return to work before they are ready. They may offer paid leave and even have a company policy in place.

“However, difficult as it may be to believe, there are employers who will pressure people to return to work immediately after their child has died.

“A TUC report last week detailed the increasing difficulty that employees in general have in obtaining leave for family reasons, especially where people are in insecure work such as on zero-hours contracts.

“Children who die in infancy may have spent most, if not all, of their lives in hospital. Their parents may be completely exhausted and have already used their maternity or paternity leave.

“There are some things such as registering a death and arranging a funeral which have to be done following a death and they take time as anyone who has lost a close family member will know.

“Whether that death has followed a long period in hospital or has come as a sudden shock, parents also need time to grieve.

“The impact of the death of a child will inevitably be felt for years ahead. However, when it is felt most keenly parents should have the right to take time off for work to bury their child and to grieve for them.”

Bills were introduced in Parliament in 2013 and 2016 to create an entitlement to paid bereavement leave which would be paid at the rate of statutory maternity or paternity pay. A new Bill is due to be debated on 20th October.

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