Parents who lose a child to be offered official bereavement leave in new proposal

Should women who suffer still birth and miscarriage be given bereavement leave? [Photo: Getty]

Parents who suffer the stillbirth of a child will be legally entitled to paid bereavement leave under a new law which looks set to be passed today.

Under the new provisions employers will have to give two weeks’ paid leave to anyone who loses a baby from 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards, and anyone who loses a child under the age of 18.

At the moment there is no statutory entitlement for paid leave for parents who lose a child.

The move comes after a campaign by mum, Lucy Herd, lost her 23-month-old son in 2010 and whose husband was only granted three days off work.

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act, which will receive Royal Assent today, is expected to come into force in 2020.

It follows news revealed last month that New Zealand is to consider offering bereavement leave to parents who suffer a miscarriage at any stage in their pregnancy.

The bill, which also covers stillbirths, would legislate for three days’ paid bereavement leave should it be passed by the country’s parliament.

Ginny Anderson, the MP who sponsored the bill, said miscarriage remained a taboo subject and hoped that being granted leave to grieve for the loss of the baby would shine a light on the importance of the subject.

At the moment New Zealand parents are entitled to bereavement leave after losing a family member or child but this doesn’t include the loss of a child who is not born alive.

Experts hope that if the bill is passed in New Zealand, the UK could soon follow suit.

Commenting on the new miscarriage proposal, Ruth Bender Atik, National Director at The Miscarriage Association told Yahoo Style UK: “Miscarriage is not the same for everyone but for many women and men, it means the loss of their baby and their hopes and dreams for that child.

“The option of paid bereavement leave would not only provide much-needed time out, but would also acknowledge that miscarriage is often a significant event. That understanding might also be welcomed by people who don’t feel the need for compassionate leave or those who don’t want their workplace to know about their miscarriage.”

New Zealand could bring in leave for women who have suffered from a miscarriage [Photo: Getty]

That’s something echoed by many of the one in four women who have a pregnancy ending in miscarriage.

“I found myself in a terrible state after the miscarriage and had at least a month of work,” explains Lou, 34. “It wasn’t offered to me I took it off my own back after visiting my GP. Counselling was not offered at any point and I had to source this off my own back. I waited weeks for it and hindsight showed me I needed it as soon as it happened. Miscarriage is so common yet still such a taboo. We often need more support than we realise.”

That’s something other mums agree with.

“I think the idea of miscarriage leave is very positive,” says Amy Newson. “During the immediate aftermath following a miscarriage it is difficult to think about returning to work- to know you would be entitled to three days would be one less thing to worry about. My husband only felt comfortable taking one day off (whilst I was in the hospital), and I really would have benefited from his help.”

Amy says that though she was lucky her work were understanding and she did take six weeks she believes having a dedicated miscarriage leave in those first few days would have given her the time she needed to come to terms with what had happened without worrying about work.

“The fact that the leave New Zealand are considering would be classified as ‘bereavement leave’ is also poignant, I only had the option to take my leave as sick leave. I think it’s important that miscarriage is being considered as more than just a medical condition, and as the bereavement that it is.”

For many mums who have suffered a miscarriage being allowed official time off would do more than just assist the grieving process.

“[Miscarriage leave] wouldn’t only allow people to take some much needed time to process their loss,” says Emma Peacock. “To have a miscarriage officially recognised as something worthy of the time off would also help validate your feelings of bereavement.”

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