A CAMPAIGN for parents to be allowed bereavement leave following the death of a child is gathering momentum.
Lord Knight of Weymouth – who as Jim Knight was Labour MP for Dorset prior to 2010 – says most people are surprised that there is no automatic entitlement for parents to take time off when a child dies.
He has urged MPs to back a motion in the Commons on the issue and is pressing the issues in the House of Lords.
Lord Knight said: “If your child dies there’s no statutory entitlement to leave at all. Whilst the majority of employers are reasonable and understanding, giving people time off, not every employer does that.
“I’ve got examples from the NHS and employers from the public sector as well as the private sector when people are not given sufficient time and in some cases disciplined if they have gone sick following taking time that’s been agreed as informal bereavement leave. I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
He pointed out that new parents were entitled to time off for the birth of a child while there was no provision for the death of a child.
Lord Knight added: “It also has to be remembered that 90 per cent of relationships break down following the death of a child so this is also about trying to do something to protect marriage.”
David Cameron pledged last year to look into the issue after being questioned about it in the Commons. He took two weeks’ leave following the death of his son Ivan in 2009.
Lord Knight said it was unclear whether there would be majority support for the campaign in the Commons but he believed the Lords could vote in favour.
He added: “I don’t think if the Lords decided to move on this that in the end the government would think it’s worth a battle with the Lords over it.”
Junior business minister Viscount Younger has previously said the government was developing new guidance for employers in forming policies on the issue.