Bereavement bill debated in Commons

MP Patricia Gibson proposes to extend statutory bereavement leave to all employees and not just parents following a family bereavement.

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MP Patricia Gibson’s private member’s bill on statutory paid bereavement leave for people who lose a close family member will be debated in the House of Commons this week.

The Bereavement Leave and Pay Bill seeks to extend the statutory bereavement leave of two weeks’ paid leave for parents who lose a child up to the age of 18, or through stillbirth, to all people who have lost a close family member.

Mrs Gibson secured the statutory paid bereavement leave for parents under the Parental Bereavement Bill in 2018 and this new bill will ensure that all employees will be entitled to paid leave and not have to rely on the goodwill of employers at one of the most difficult times of their lives.

Mrs Gibson said: ‘The 2018 Act was hugely significant because it established an important principle. For the very first time the law recognised the magnitude of the loss of a child and provided some breathing space to bereaved parents.

‘Ground-breaking though that achievement was, it didn’t go far enough. Many of us have lost a close relative and know all too well the crushing grief that such a loss can bring.

‘Relying on an employer’s goodwill to grant compassionate leave means many, often the lowest paid, receive no paid leave at all.

‘My bill has support from across the political spectrum. While employment law remains reserved to Westminster, and as we continue to live through a health pandemic which has cost so many lives, the UK government must also back this measure so that the right to grieve the loss of our loved ones is enshrined in law.’

The debate, also known as the second reading, will see Ms Gibson put forward her bill today (Friday) with the opposition, and other MPs, providing their opinion on the bill before it is put to a vote on whether it can proceed to the next stage or not. If successful, the bill will move to the committee stage where each clause and amendment of the bill will be debated.