A new Bill which seeks to address a legal ‘loophole’ for parents whose partners die in pregnancy or childbirth has passed the first hurdle in the House of Commons.
A Private Member’s Bill which aims to cover a legal ‘loophole’ for parents whose partner dies in pregnancy or childbirth, enabling them to access parental leave and pay as a day one right, has passed the first hurdle in the House of Commons.
Currently, partners have to work for their employer for 26 weeks and give three months’ notice before the birth to access parental leave and pay.
Labour MP Chris Elmore has put forward the Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill. The Government says it supports giving partners access to unpaid leave in these circumstances, but says the 26-week rule applies for all other types of parental pay. It calculates the Bill could affect up to 50 parents a year.
The Bill would cover England, Scotland and Wales, if passed.
Alison Green, director at WOMBA (Work, Me and the Baby), welcomed the news: “It’s encouraging that The Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill has passed the first stage in parliament. Becoming a parent is life changing in any case, but having to deal with the tragic loss of a partner at this time is unthinkable. Whilst it is a very rare occurrence, the number of women dying each year during pregnancy, or soon after, has increased to its highest level in 20 years, according to MBRACE. With that, more partners are left to deal with the horrific circumstance of raising a newborn alone, whilst grieving for their loved one. It is incredibly important for employees to have reassurance of job and pay security during this time.
“We know that the complexity of shared parental leave (SPL) in the UK already prevents many parents from using their legal entitlement. Undoubtedly, making SPL and pay for a father or partner, where the mother of the child has died, a day-one employment right is a well-overdue step in the right direction.”
However, she added that the rate of Shared Parental Pay needs to increase.
She said: “The statutory minimum of £172.48 per week will not be viable for most families. It could mean that only those working for an employer who offers enhanced pay for those taking SPL, will benefit. Those that are not offered or entitled to enhanced SPL may be forced to tap into savings or rely on family for financial support – a pressure which will add yet more stress to an already very difficult time.”