Essex MP who lost stillborn son praised for helping introduce new law supporting bereaved parents

Colchester MP Will Quince Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Colchester MP Will Quince Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

An Essex MP who lost a baby son has spoken of his delight after the Government today introduced a new workplace right to paid leave for bereaved parents.

Colchester MP Will Quince, whose son was stillborn full term in October 2014, had been a keen supporter of the Parental Leave and Pay Bill since its first hearing, having proposed a similar bill during the last Parliament.

The Bill, which has been officially enshrined in law today and is expected to come into force by 2020, will mean employed parents who lose a child under 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, will receive two week’s paid leave.

Mr Quince, welcoming the news on Twitter, said: “I’m delighted to say that today the Parental Leave and Pay Bill achieves Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.

“This is the first law of its kind in the UK enshrining in law a workplace right to paid leave for bereaved parents.”

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In the Government’s official announcement, Mr Quince added: “There can be few worse life experiences than the loss of a child and while most employers treat their staff with dignity and compassion when this tragedy occurs, all too often we have heard stories of grieving parents being forced back to work too early.

“I am delighted that parents in this awful situation will now have the protection of paid leave enshrined in law, and we should be very proud that the UK now has one of the best worker’s rights in this area in the world.”

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Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst, said: “This law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history.

“Losing a child is an unimaginable trauma. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone which so many have campaigned for.

“I’d like to thank all the people who have helped make this law a reality, including the brave parent campaigners who have spoken out about their own experiences.”

Lucy Herd from Jack’s Rainbow said: “When I started the campaign 8 years ago after the death of my son Jack, I always hoped that a change would happen in his memory.

“Knowing that 8 years of campaigning has helped create legislation to ensure bereaved parents are protected in the future is such a wonderful feeling and I am so grateful to all those involved.

The government-backed bill was introduced to parliament in July 2017 as a private member’s bill by Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton.

Mr Hollinkrake said: “Losing a child is the most dreadful and unimaginable experience that any parent could suffer and it is right that grieving parents will now be given time to start to come to terms with their loss.

“I am grateful to Will Quince MP, who first brought this issue to the fore in a ‘Ten-Minute Rule Motion’ on statutory entitlement during the previous parliamentary session. I am also grateful to Lord Knight and fellow MPs, on both sides of the House, some of whom have shared their own personal stories of losing a beloved child, who have assisted in bringing forward this legislation so quickly.”

Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust said: “At The Lullaby Trust we know how devastating the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or a child is for parents.

“This new law is a big step forward in recognising the needs of bereaved families in our society and will help to ensure that parents are not unduly pressurised to return to work immediately following the death of their child.

Steven Wibberley, Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care said: “We are delighted that this bill has been approved as it will make a huge difference to bereaved parents whose lives have been shattered by the death of a child.

“It is important that parents are given time to grieve in the aftermath of a child’s death and this new law recognises this.”

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