politics

MP who suffered miscarriage plans new law for women to get bereavement leave


Sarah Owen, MP for Luton North, called on the Government to also extend the leave to parents who have experienced a still birth

Women who have had a miscarriage or a still birth should be entitled to bereavement leave, a Labour MP has said.

Sarah Owen, MP for Luton North, recalled the heartache she felt after her own miscarriages as she was left “mourning a lost future”.

But she was “even more shocked” to learn that she would have to take sick pay after experiencing a miscarriage.

“Grief hits everyone differently, but one thing that is universal is that it takes time,” Ms Owens told the Commons.

“It’s why people are entitled to bereavement leave when losing a loved one.”

She added: “I can’t believe in 2021 people are forced to take sick leave to process their grief.”







Labour MP Sarah Owen told the Commons the law urgently needs to catch up with society



“Being forced to take sick leave wrongly reinforces a woman’s feeling that her body has failed her or that it is somehow her fault.”

As it stands, if a miscarriage happens in the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy, there’s no legal right to maternity or parental bereavement leave.

If a woman loses a baby before 24 weeks, the only option available is to take sick leave.

Ms Owen’s Bill would extend entitlement to parental bereavement leave and pay to parents of babies miscarried or stillborn during early pregnancy.

She said: “The first time it took me two days to completely miscarry, the second time I carried the little ones around with me for nearly a week until I went under general anaesthetic to have them removed.”

The MP said: “I can’t imagine going through all of that without a supportive employer, yet thousands of women in this country do and that is why the law must change… The call to extend bereavement leave to people who miscarry in early pregnancy has cross-party support.”





Ms Owen asked to meet ministers, adding: “My proposal today would be an ideal strengthening of people’s rights at work in any future Employment Bill. We shouldn’t have to wait any longer to make this change.

“No woman should feel compelled to stay at home or stay in work. They should have the space and choice about how to grieve.”

She went on: “Grief hits everyone differently, but one thing that is universal is that it takes time. It’s why people are entitled to bereavement leave when losing a loved one.

“I wasn’t prepared for the grief of miscarrying, I was even more shocked that I wasn’t entitled to bereavement leave, but legally had to take sick pay instead.”

Ms Owen’s Bereavement Leave and Pay (Stillborn and Miscarried Babies) Bill was listed for a second reading on February 25 next year, but is unlikely to become law due to a lack of parliamentary time.


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