Bereavement Leave

If you have ever lost a close loved one or relative you will understand that going to work is often the very last thing on your mind, however finances often mean it is something that you must face very quickly

A new national opinion poll reveals that 71% voters think there should be a national guaranteed minimum entitlement to bereavement leave for close family members

Lucy Herd, who tragically lost her toddler son in 2010, has achieved a major step forward in her campaign to bring to Parliament’s attention the fact that grieving parents are only entitled to three days unpaid statutory leave if their child dies

In Prime Minister’s Questions, on 20 November 2013, David Cameron was asked by Tom Harris MP if he would consider amending the Employment Rights Act 1996 to “give British parents the legal right and time to grieve.”   The Prime Minister replied that this was an “important issue” and he was “happy to look at that, having suffered the experience myself”

This breakthrough in Lucy’s campaign comes in the same week that a national poll commissioned by the Change Bereavement Leave campaign, reveals a general lack of knowledge on this issue amongst the general public:

  • Seven in ten (71%) voters think there should be a national guaranteed minimum entitlement to bereavement leave for close family members
  • Only one in six (15%) voters correctly understand the current entitlement to bereavement leave
  • 63% think it’s unfair that bereavement leave is unpaid

Lucy Herd’s, 23 month old son, Jack, drowned in their garden pond in August 2010 when Lucy had taken her eyes off him for just a short moment.   She was to discover that as a bereaved parent her then-partner could take just three days unpaid leave off work – one of which had to be for the funeral.  Any additional time was to be taken as either sick leave or holiday

In the immediate aftermath of the death parents have to cope with their own loss, the grief of their wider family, including other children, as well as a vast amount of administrative & other arrangements such as inquests & post mortems

“A year off for the birth of a child & three days off for a child’s death is an inhumane anomaly & I ask for your help to get this changed,” said Lucy Herd.  ““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, & if they are, any compassionate leave will almost certainly be unpaid”

Kelly from Mojomums had her own experience before joining us, “My mother, aged 52, died after a very short illness & the company I was working for at the time was extremely spoortive & understanding – I did not work from the moment she was terminally diagnosed through to around a month after her death – I was off work, fully paid, for over 2 months.  On return, I was given ‘soft duties’, with support & help from my team.  I know that this period of time helped me come to terms with my mothers death & when I returned to work I was able to concentrate fully on my job – if I had only been able to take 3 days leave I do not know how I would have coped”

Lucy Herd’s Change Bereavement Leave campaign is supported by many organisations including Child Bereavement UK, Cruse, the Lullaby Trust (formerly SIDs),, Parliamentarians including Tom Harris MP & Lord Jim Knight, & the TUC

A petition has been started on on this issue.

Please visit for more information.  Lucy can be contacted via her Twitter @chngbereavement or her Facebook page!/JacksRainbow.


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One Response to Bereavement Leave

  1. lucy herd says:

    Hi there
    Just came across this page and wanted to thank you for writing about my campaign.
    Also to let you know I have updated my website address
    Thanks again

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