Words: Eva O’Beirne
A bill that grants parents with two weeks paid leave following the death of a child or stillbirth has been passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly. This makes Northern Ireland the first place in Europe to introduce such a measure.
The Bill was introduced by DUP MLA Diane Dodds when she was Minister for the Economy, who said she was delighted to Bill for Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay passed its final stage in the Assembly.
“The trauma of losing a child is impossible to overstate, and it is completely understandable that working parents who experience such a bereavement will need the compassion and support of a caring employer,” she said.
“This Bill is a vital step towards ensuring that- on a statutory basis, employees who suffer the loss of a child under the age of eighteen, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or a miscarriage will have two weeks’ leave be entitled to a statutory payment.”
Current Minister for the Economy Gordon Lyons welcomed that the Assembly was able to reach a consensus and ensure the legislation passed. Lyons also emphasised his support for the impending legislation for those who have had a miscarriage: “I also welcome that the Assembly has passed the ground-breaking legislation that will in due course extend similar statutory support to working parents who suffer a miscarriage. It is important we recognise that the loss of a child in the womb is still a horrendous experience and we want to provide support where possible.”
“Northern Ireland will now be the first jurisdiction in Europe, and one of only a handful across the world, to have legislated for miscarriage employment rights in such a comprehensive fashion. Following a full public consultation, my department will draw up detailed miscarriage leave and pay regulations, with an introduction date following shortly after.”
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