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Rochester MP Kelly Tolhurst announces new bereavement support law

By Chris Hunter

A new law will give extra support for families after the death of a child, Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst has announced.

Introduced today, the new workplace rights will give paid leave to those who have suffered the loss of a child and ensure they are treated compassionately by employers.

The government has also confirmed that eligibility under the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act will be widened beyond parents to include all primary carers for children, including adopters, foster parents and guardians.

"We're announcing a new law to extend parental bereavement leave for the benefit of all families and encouraging companies to be really compassionate to those individuals who go through the worst time in their life when they might lose a child," said business minister Ms Tolhurst.

"The tragedy of a family losing a child is the most horrific thing that anyone can go through and currently that right has always been aligned to parents but we're extending that so that anyone who is a carer will get an opportunity to benefit from parental bereavement leave, so that would include groups like adopters, foster cares, kinship carers, special guardians, so we're really opening it up to the whole host of different kinds of families in our modern day."

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act, which is expected to come into force in 2020, ensures bereaved employees who lose a child under 18 will receive two weeks’ leave.

Eligible employees will also receive two weeks statutory pay.

Ms Tolhurst also said the law is designed to be flexible - and that leave can be taken within 56 weeks of the child's death.

She also said employers would be encouraged to user the law as a starting point when dealing with bereaved employees.

"It will be two weeks entitlement to leave, but we are encouraging companies and employers to go further than the statutory minimum of two weeks and to really work with their to make sure they are looking at the needs of their employee and taking into account the trauma that they go through when they lose a child, so we're saying a statutory two weeks but we're looking for employers to act compassionately and do more."

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