Minister wins backing for Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Bill

Date published: 07 February 2022

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons today secured the backing of the Assembly for his Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Bill.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons speaking at Assembly

With this Bill, working parents will be entitled to two weeks' statutory paid leave following the death of a child or stillbirth. 

Minister Gordon Lyons welcomed the strengthening of employment rights for Northern Ireland workers dealing with the extreme distress of losing a child:

“I am pleased the Assembly has been able to reach a consensus and ensure this important legislation has now passed its final stage.

“Following the introduction of parental bereavement leave and pay in Great Britain, my predecessor Diane Dodds made it her priority to secure an extension of this critical support for parents in Northern Ireland. I share that priority and am pleased I have been able to secure Assembly passage in this mandate. This new employment right will be introduced following Royal Assent and will align provision here with the rest of the United Kingdom. It will provide an important statutory safety net for working parents who suffer such a profound loss. No one should have to worry about losing their job or having to return to work while starting to grieve the loss of a child.

“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.”                                                                  

Notes to editors: 

1. The Department for the Economy aims to introduce Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay that mirrors provision in GB later this year.

2. Eligible working parents will be entitled to two weeks' statutory paid leave. A 26-week qualification period for pay is in place.

3. Provision for miscarriage will follow at a later date following a public consultation. Parental Bereavement Pay will become a day one right when regulations for miscarriage are commenced.

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