Paid bereavement leave rights urged

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Gender pay gap

A legal right to paid leave for workers affected by a family bereavement has been urged on the Government amid growing public support for the move.

Seven out of 10 would back a national guaranteed minimum , a survey of more than 1,500 adults showed.


The poll, commissioned by the Change Bereavement Leave campaign, also showed that two-thirds said it was unfair that bereavement leave was unpaid.

The findings were welcomed by Lucy Herd, whose 23-month-old son Jack drowned in their garden pond in Cumbria three years ago and discovered that her partner could only take three days unpaid leave from work.

She said: "David Cameron acknowledged he was able to take two weeks off after the death of his own son, but sadly not all parents have sympathetic or understanding employers or can afford unpaid time off. We would like to see four weeks of paid bereavement leave for parents."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Thinking about how they might cope following the death of a close family member is clearly not something many of us want to spend much time contemplating.

"Most people will be surprised to learn that unless they have an understanding employer, they may not be able to take much time off work following a death in the family, and if they are, any compassionate leave will almost certainly be unpaid.

"Coping with the sudden loss of a loved one is traumatic enough without having to worry about work too. The Government should do the right thing and give people a legal right to paid time away from their jobs after someone close to them has died.

"Employers can also help ease the upset of their bereaved employees a little by being more generous depending on someone's individual circumstances - for example a parent coping with the sudden loss of a child is likely to need much more time off work."

Labour MP Tom Harris has raised the issue in the Commons, saying that many bereaved parents go back to work too early after the death of a child because they have no right to employment leave.

"Most people are unaware that there is currently no right to bereavement leave for parents. This is an injustice that Parliament needs to address," he said.