An MP who has been through the pain of a miscarriage, says it’s time for a change in the law.
A Parliamentary Bill to extend entitlement to parental bereavement leave and pay to parents of babies miscarried or stillborn during early pregnancy, was being debated during a second reading in the House of Commons this week.
Sponsored by Sarah Owen, Labour MP for Luton North, The Bereavement Leave and Pay (Stillborn and Miscarried Babies) Bill is a Ten Minute Rule Bill.
She is seeking to extend parental bereavement leave, which came into force in April 2020. This entitles parents who lose a child under 18 or who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy the right to take two weeks’ leave, paid at the statutory rate, if they’re an employee. Workers are entitled to parental bereavement pay.
At the moment there is no statutory entitlement to paid leave for those who lose a child before their 24th week of pregnancy, according to the Miscarriage Association. Beyond 24 weeks the loss is legally classed as a stillbirth and mothers are entitled to full maternity leave.
The proposed legislation going through Parliament would extend those benefits to earlier in the pregnancy.Currently, both parents are entitled to two weeks of Parental Bereavement Leave.
Is this going to become a law?
A Ten Minute Rule Bill is a process of tabling a bill, where an MP has 10 minutes to advocate for their legislation to the Commons and the Minister responsible.
Ten Minute Rule Bills do not receive any legislative priority and will only become an Act of Parliament if there is unanimous consent of MPs.
However, the legislative proposal may be adopted by the Government, particularly if the proposed legislation can be implemented without a Bill.
The Miscarriage Association offers support and information to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or molar pregnancy.
It has launched a campaign urging employers to commit to supporting employees through the distress of miscarriage.
As part of their campaign, firms are being encouraged to sign up to the Pregnancy Loss Pledge to support their staff who have suffered.
The loss of a child during pregnancy can be devastating at any stage and so it is important that employers are supportive of employees facing such a traumatic experience.
This new law will enshrine new rules if implemented, but employers may want to give some consideration to how they would support an employee in the event of a miscarriage.
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