The bereaved mother whose campaign led to the Parental Leave and Pay Bill wants to see it extended further.
Lucy Herd’s campaign began in memory of her 23-month-old son Jack, who died in a garden pond in 2010. After the tragedy her husband was told he could only have three days off work, including one to attend the funeral.
In September, the Parental Leave and Pay Bill was passed. The first law of its kind in the UK will support those affected by the tragedy of childhood mortality and is expected to come into force in 2020.
The Act will give all employed parents a day-one right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.
Ms Herd warmly welcomed the Act but had called for bereaved parents to be given a month’s leave.
She said: “I think having this bill in place will ensure that parents go back to work when they are ready and not have to worry that they are going to be told that they can’t take time off to grieve for their children. Two weeks is a great start.”
In a social media post on the Jacks Rainbow @bereavementleave Facebook page she added: “I’m happy to announce The Queen gave her Royal Assent for Parental Bereavement Leave and now my journey continues to ensure all employees who suffer a bereavement are protected.”
In the post she called on employers to follow the lead of Facebook, which offers 20 days paid leave after the death of an immediate family member. The additional time allows people more time to grieve, but also deal with practicalities as they work out how to do everything from registering the death to how to compare funeral directors.
Nevertheless, the Act has been welcomed by bereavement charities.
Steven Wibberley, Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care said: “We are delighted that this bill has been approved as it will make a huge difference to bereaved parents whose lives have been shattered by the death of a child.
“It is important that parents are given time to grieve in the aftermath of a child’s death and this new law recognises this.”
Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust said: “At The Lullaby Trust we know how devastating the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or a child is for parents.
“This new law is a big step forward in recognising the needs of bereaved families in our society and will help to ensure that parents are not unduly pressurised to return to work immediately following the death of their child.”
Easy click bereavement resources for HR teams and staff:
Child Bereavement UK: Child Bereavement UK provides training to professionals, to help them better understand and meet the needs of grieving families.
Cruse training: Cruse Bereavement Care provides training and consultancy for external organisations and for those who may encounter bereaved people in the course of their work.
ACAS guidance: Managing bereavement in the workplace a good practice guide