Conservative MP Will Quince has called for parents to be have guaranteed ‘bereavement leave’ when they lose a child.
Under current law, if a child dies before they are six months old their parents can take two paid weeks away from work in order to come to terms with such a devastating loss. This is covered by the rules on maternity and paternity leave. However no such rule exists for parents of children older than six months.
In a column for The Telegraph, Will Quince said this was a “scandal”. Such leave is relatively common in Europe and beyond so “it is remarkable that you can argue that Albania or Bosnia and Herzagovnia [sic] have better worker rights in this area than us” he wrote.
The Colchester MP and his wife had a son who was stillborn in late 2014 and he was able to take time off without worrying about his legal rights. This experience caused him to think about parents who lose older children without that guarantee, a situation he said “cannot be right”.
In order to rectify this, Quince intends to introduce a Ten Minute Bill which would amend the Employment Rights Act 1996. This would give parents whose child has died two weeks away from work which would be paid at the same rate as maternity leave.
Statutory bereavement leave has popular support, the MP wrote, citing two petitions calling for the introduction of such paid leave which have over 25,000 and over 165,000 signatures respectively.
While he was “loathed [sic] to introduce any additional regulatory burden” on businesses in the current climate, Quince claimed the cost would be very small considering there are not very many bereaved parents in the UK and “most employers are already very understanding and give their employees the time that they need”. Similarly, he insisted the cost to the taxpayer would be low as well and “could be as little as £2 million per year”.