A bill to ensure bereaved parents of children under 18 have the right to two weeks paid leave has passed its third reading in the House of Commons.
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill was tabled by Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, who said he hoped employers would always offer more than two weeks. It is expected to become law in England, Scotland and Wales by 2020.
The bill, which will now go to the Lords, proposes that bereaved parents have the right to two weeks’ leave, paid at 90% of average weekly earnings or the statutory rate. SMEs could reclaim the full cost from the government and larger employers could claim around 90%.
The Government is consulting on eligibility for the leave and when it can be taken.
Among the amendments introduced in the third reading was a call for a clearer definition of bereaved parents and whether this should include grandparents, legal guardians and foster carers; a requirement for flexibility in taking the bereavement leave to depend on the individual and timings of funerals or inquests; clarification on the baseline minimum time that a bereaved parent can take off and whether paid leave can be increased from two to four weeks.
Hollinrake says these are all points which are expected to be included in responses to the consultation which closes on 8th June and will be considered in the House of Lords or through secondary legislation.
He commented: “It must be said that nine out of ten employers treat their employees with compassion when they lose a child. This Bill is designed to protect those employees who do not fall into this category. As one respondent to the consultation said.” When my child was born, I was entitled to a year off, but when he died, I was not entitled to a day”. This is exactly why we need this legislation and why it is so heartening that MPs are able to set aside political differences to work together to bring about this hugely important cultural change in the way we treat employees at the most difficult of times.”