Parental bereavement leave Bill passes

A new Bill which seeks to address a legal ‘loophole’ for parents whose partners die in pregnancy or childbirth has been passed.

Man with head in hands leaning on the edge of a cot containing a baby


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 been passed.

The Bill came about because partners had 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 put forward the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill. The Government previously said it supported giving partners access to unpaid leave in these circumstances, but that 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 will cover England, Scotland and Wales.

When it passed the first hurdle in the Commons, Alison Green, director at WOMBA (Work, Me and the Baby), welcomed the news: “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 needed 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.”

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