Commenting on the new Act, Helen Gravestock, Head of Research, Policy and Campaigning at CLIC Sargent, said:
“Hearing your child isn’t going to get better and that they are going to die is one of the hardest things any parent will ever have to deal with.
“This new law will provide some assistance and entitle bereaved parents to at least two weeks paid leave following the death of a child (under the age of 18), giving families more time and space to deal with bereavement together.
“We know that having a child with cancer costs parents on average an additional £600 every month whilst they are on treatment. At the same time, family incomes are decreasing with two in five (42%) parents telling us they stopped working as a consequence of their child’s cancer, and a fifth (19%) taking over a year of unpaid leave (Cancer Costs 2016). We also know that two in three parents are in debt as a result of their child’s cancer diagnosis and that parents often struggle to meet the costs of funerals when the worst happens.
“This paid entitlement to bereavement leave will allow more families to have space from work following a child’s death and provide some financial support. And we welcome the Act’s broad definition of ‘parent’ which is to be defined by relationships, so will be available to those caring for a child including foster parents.
“We look forward to receiving more detail about how this new legislation will translate into practical guidance for parents and employers. Bereaved parents will already be facing challenging circumstances following the death of a child so it’s vital that accessing parental bereavement leave and pay is made as easy as possible.
“CLIC Sargent submitted a response to the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill 2018 consultation and stressed that the grief following the loss of a child is an extremely personal issue which people deal with in different ways. Bereaved parents may experience moments of grief at unexpected times, so it is important that they can take paid bereavement leave when and how they wish. We now look forward to working with the government to help shape the regulations that will specify how the law will be carried out.”
Every week 10 children and young people in the UK die from cancer. The death of a child is something that parents are completely emotionally and financially unprepared for. At CLIC Sargent, we know that there are many difficulties families face when their child dies. Last year we provided bereavement support to families through over 350 home visits as part of our bereavement support, helping families to begin to cope with the death of their child.