Closed petition Extend statutory bereavement leave to pregnancy loss before 24 weeks

Currently if you lose a baby after 24 weeks you are as a minimum entitled to statutory maternity leave. As these same rights aren’t afforded before 24 weeks 2 weeks full pay should be provided as an absolute minimum to parents who have suffered the death of a baby at any stage of pregnancy.

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We lost our daughter at 23 weeks gestation and although my employer was fantastic many aren’t. Two weeks is not enough time to recover and grieve but it is certainly a start.

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Government responded

This response was given on 26 April 2021

The Government has no plans to extend Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay. We encourage employers to support women who have suffered a miscarriage and respond sensitively to each individual’s needs.

Read the response in full

The death of a child is particularly tragic, and this is why the Government legislated to give parents who are in this devasting position a statutory right to Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay. The entitlement came into effect in April 2020. It gives all employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or who suffer a stillbirth (i.e., when a baby is stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy), a right to take up to 2 weeks off work in the 56 weeks following the death of their child. We have mapped the policy for Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay on the clinical definition of a ‘stillbirth’ and we understand that 24 weeks is a legally and medically important point in a pregnancy; it is the clinical age of viability, meaning that after this point a premature baby has some chance of survival.

The Government recognises that losing a child at any stage is devastating. While there is no statutory right to leave and pay for women who suffer a miscarriage (i.e. when the baby dies before 24 completed weeks), the Government strongly encourages employers to be sensitive and considerate at such a time. By introducing Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay, the Government is sending an important signal to employers that the issue of bereavement in the workplace should be acknowledged. The policy establishes a statutory baseline for employers when managing parental bereavement in the workplace, and it is the Government’s hope that this will, in turn, translate into better support for all bereaved employees at work.

The Government is committed to giving employers the tools and support that they need in all aspects of their relationships with their employees. We worked with the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (Acas) to publish guidance around bereavement for employers. The good practice guide “Managing Bereavement in the Workplace” has been developed in conjunction with the charity Cruse Bereavement Care and is available on the Acas website.

Finally, mothers who suffer the loss of their baby before the 24th week of pregnancy and are not able to return to work may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. In establishing their eligibility for statutory sick pay, an employee is able to self-certify incapacity for work for the first seven days of their sickness absence (regardless of cause). All employees are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of Annual Leave a year and many employers also offer ‘Compassionate Leave’.

This is a revised response. The Petitions Committee requested a response which more directly addressed the request of the petition. You can find the original response towards the bottom of the petition page: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/574455

Other parliamentary business

Original Government response

The Government recognises that losing a child at any stage is devastating. Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay is a floor not a ceiling and we strongly encourage employers to go beyond if they can.

The death of a child is particularly tragic, and this is why the Government legislated to give parents who are in this devasting position a statutory right to Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay. The entitlement came into effect in April 2020. It gives all employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or who suffer a stillbirth (i.e when a baby is stillborn after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy), a right to take up to 2 weeks off work in the 56 weeks following the death of their child.

The Government recognises that losing a child at any stage is devastating. While there is no statutory right to leave and pay for women who suffer a miscarriage (i.e when the baby dies before 24 completed weeks), the Government strongly encourages employers to be sensitive and considerate at such a time. By introducing Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay, the Government is sending an important signal to employers that the issue of bereavement in the workplace should be acknowledged. The policy establishes a statutory baseline for employers when managing parental bereavement in the workplace, and it is the Government’s hope that this will, in turn, translate into better support for all bereaved employees at work.

The Government is committed to giving employers the tools and support that they need in all aspects of their relationships with their employees. We worked with the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (Acas) to publish guidance around bereavement for employers. The good practice guide “Managing Bereavement in the Workplace” has been developed in conjunction with the charity Cruse Bereavement Care and is available on the Acas website.

Finally, mothers who suffer the loss of their baby before the 24th week of pregnancy and are not able to return to work may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. In establishing their eligibility for statutory sick pay, an employee is able to self-certify incapacity for work for the first seven days of their sickness absence (regardless of cause).

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

This response was given on 1 April 2021. The Petitions Committee then requested a revised response, that more directly addressed the request of the petition.

MPs debate the impact of baby loss, and support for those affected

On 23 September, MPs took part in a 'general' debate to mark Baby Loss Awareness Week. The debate was led by Cherilyn Mackrory MP, and Health and Social Care Minister Maria Caulfield MP responded for the Government.

Watch the debate: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/2aad47cc-e48a-4742-a47b-c78cfaf9d5f6?in=12:50:41
Read the transcript: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-09-23/debates/00EC198A-02EF-4117-8426-0193A3B1E6E0/BabyLossAwarenessWeek

During the debate, MPs discussed the impact that the loss of a baby can have, with several sharing their own personal experiences. They also discussed actions the Government could take to improve the support available to those affected.

What are 'general' debates?

General debates allow MPs to debate important issues, and put their concerns to Government Ministers. They do not, however, end in a vote and nor can they change the law.