Josie Anderson, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the charity Bliss, reflects on the details of this report.
Sputnik: Today the government has announced that parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory paid leave from work. How significant is this new law and what effect will it have for parents, who have suffered the loss of a child, going forward?
Josie Anderson: We at Bliss believe that this is a really significant step forward. Until today there has been no automatic right to paid time off for bereavement. Once these regulations are laid today that will become a right on from April 6th. Until this point, parents have been relying on their company's own sickness leave or time off underneath their usual policies. While of course many employers are very flexible, some sadly aren't. We at Bliss have heard many heartbreaking stories from families who had to take a holiday just to cope with their grief in the immediate aftermath of losing a baby and that's plainly not right.
Sputnik: It seems ridiculous that it’s taken so long for these laws to become a reality. Why has it taken so long for these laws to be implemented and enforced by Britain’s government?
Josie Anderson: This change has come down to tireless campaigning particularly from individuals like Lucy Herd whose son the law is named after. She's campaigned on this issue for 10 years and Bliss has been campaigning on this issue for a number of years as well and we are incredibly grateful to MPs like Kevin Hollinrake, who introduced this idea for a private member's bill, and, of course, on one level it has taken far too long to heed the experiences of bereaved parents. However, when this is introduced, the UK will be the only country to have this form of entitlement for bereaved parents. So while it's taken an incredibly long time, the UK is ahead of the game here.
Sputnik: Going forward and after campaigning for over a decade for these news laws, what’s next for your organisation in protecting parents?
Josie Anderson: Firstly, Bliss, of course, welcomes the news that this is going to come into force - it will make such a difference. I think the law is expected to support 10,000 families in the UK every year that experience baby or child loss. However, we would like to see the scope of the law extended eventually to include workers who lacked employee status and also to be extended to parents who are self-employed as well. We'll be keeping a close eye on what parents are telling us to make sure that this has been implemented effectively and that they're able to access it as easily as it's intended to be. We will also continue to call for this law to be part of a much broader package of support for grief payments. Additionally, the government has also committed to introducing extended parental leave for parents whose baby needs special care in the neonatal unit and Bliss will be campaigning to make sure that they make good on that commitment when the Employment Bill begins its passage.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.