People whose partner dies in childbirth should get ‘day one’ parental leave – MP

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David Lynch
Tuesday 20 December 2022 16:29 GMT

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Parents who are grieving the loss of a partner who died in childbirth must be offered a “day one” right to paid leave to look after their newborns, ministers have been told.

Conservative MP Darren Henry (Broxtowe) called on MPs to support his Shared Parental Leave and Pay (Bereavement) Bill, which would reform the law to give more support to people grieving a lost partner while raising a child.

Mr Henry told the Commons about a constituent called Aaron, whose wife died during childbirth, leading him to bring up their infant son Tim alone.

Aaron “discovered he was not entitled to shared parental leave” as he did not meet the criteria to do so, with Mr Henry adding: “As a father myself, I know that being a parent to a newborn is a huge undertaking at the best of times.

“I cannot imagine being in that position while facing the fact that you partner has died during birth.”

He said: “Luckily in Aaron’s case he worked for an incredibly understanding employer who gave him the leave he needed to look after Tim. But others are not so lucky.

“This Bill is attempting to ensure that there is a right to leave and pay for individual such as Aaron in the case of a spouse passing away. This right would be there regardless of the length of time a person has been with their employer.

“It seeks to find a day one right for a parent to access both leave and pay. It seeks to ensure employees who have to raise a child following the death of their partner will not be left without support.”

Mr Henry explained that the current criteria mean that parents who have lost a partner do not have the ability to take parental leave.

He said: “As the law stands, for the mother’s partner to take shared parental leave and shared parental pay the mother must have been working for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due and have earned at least £390 in total across any of 30 of the 66 weeks.

“The mother’s partner must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date. They must also stay with the same employer until they start their shared parental leave.

“Practically speaking, a surviving partner could be entitled to take shared parental leave, but they would not get to meet the criteria just mentioned. Aaron did not.

“This means that under this requirement, many will not qualify for shared parental leave and pay. This Bill seeks to correct this.”

Mr Henry’s Bill will be considered again by MPs on January 20 next year, but is unlikely to pass through Parliament without Government support.

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