We were delighted to welcome Andrea Leadsom MP, the government’s Business Secretary, at the Sands offices in London.

Andrea confirmed the government has passed legislation in the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act, which means working parents whose child dies will have the statutory right to a minimum of two weeks’ paid leave.

From 6 April 2020 all employed parents whose child dies (under the age of 18), or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer, will be eligible under the new law.

Sands’ chief executive Clea Harmer welcomed Andrea who took the opportunity to find out more about our vital work, including our consultancy services for employersand how the new Act will benefit newly bereaved parents who are grieving.

The two weeks paid leave is an important start, but it's how employers support parents' return to work that will have an enormous impact.

While it can be difficult for employers to know what to do to help bereaved parents in the workplace, Sands can provide a bespoke service to meet organisation’s needs, including development of appropriate policies, training and practical advice for human resources staff and senior management.

Clea introduced Andrea to bereaved parents Lucy Herd and Darren Smith who shared their stories of returning to work after the death of their babies.

It was Lucy that spearheaded the campaign for the government to introduce parental leave and she has been campaigning for the last decade to make the change in legislation in memory of her baby son Jack.  

Andrea Leadsom MP, Business Secretary, said: “There can be few worse experiences in life than the loss of a child and while most employers act with compassion, parents could not expect a guaranteed period of leave until now.  I am proud that this government has enshrined the world’s most generous paid bereavement leave in law, giving parents some space to grieve.”

Around 7,500 child deaths, including around 3,000 stillbirths, occur in the UK every year. The government estimates that this new entitlement will help to support around 10,000 parents a year.

The right to parental bereavement leave and pay makes the UK one of a very few countries worldwide to offer such support, and the first to offer a full two weeks leave from work.

Clea Harmer, Chief Executive at Sands, said: “Sands welcomes and fully supports the new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act that will ensure bereaved parents will have a right to at least two weeks’ paid leave from work in addition to their existing parental leave entitlement.

“Having the legal right to two weeks of paid leave will make a big difference to bereaved parents affected by stillbirth or neonatal death; so we are very pleased that they have been specifically recognised in the Act. 

“Now the Act is in place all employers need to ensure they know about this important change in the law and what additional support they can offer to bereaved parents in their workplace, as this is vital time for them in their grieving process. 

“We surveyed 2,769 bereaved parents who had been affected by pregnancy and baby loss about their experiences of returning to work during our Finding the Words campaign.

"The results revealed that 49% of employers did not discuss entitlements to pay and leave when a parent returned to work. The results led us to establish a new service for employers that is designed to provide information and advice as well as specialist training to build skills and help companies and organisations fully support their employees.” 

The policy will apply to biological parents, adoptive parents, and those having a baby with the help of a surrogate; as well as individuals who had a parental relationship to the child before the death, for example kinship carers and certain foster parents.

Employers who would like to find out more about how they can better support their employees following the death of a baby, can visit our consultancy services page.  

Pregnancy loss and the death of a baby is one of the most distressing events that anyone can experience. It can impact upon every aspect of a bereaved parent’s life, and the workplace is no exception. There are many things a company can do to support bereaved parents after the death of their baby. Here are some simple steps you can take that can make a big difference.

Sands can support you and your team to make sure you are getting things right. Whether through our workplace training sessions, support in developing bereavement policies or other assistance that you need, our essential services for employers will make sure you and your team have the awareness and confidence you need to support a bereaved parent in the workplace. Get in touch today corporate.partnerships@sands.org.uk

Picture: Andrea Leadsom MP (left) meets Clea Harmer. Picture credit: Lee Armitt.

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