Compassionate leave to be introduced for bereaved Jersey parents by end of 2023

  • Parents in Jersey who have experienced the loss of a child say this law will be vital for giving them time to grieve.

A new law in Jersey is to be introduced by the end of the year, to help parents who have lost their child after 24 weeks of pregnancy and up to 18-years-old.

It means those who have lost a child will be entitled to two weeks unpaid bereavement leave, without having to request or negotiate time off work.

The Government are though looking into a state benefit.

Angela and Tim Hutchings lost their six-year-old daughter, Izzy, following long-term illness in 2018.

Izzy passed away on Christmas Eve in 2018 Credit: ITV Channel

Tim's employer only gave him three days of compassionate leave, while his wife Angela was told by her employer she could take as long as she needed.

"I was very lucky, my employer at the time was very supportive and they said to take as much time as I needed. But my husband was not so lucky and he was only given a few days off. I don't know how he did that but I do think it made it, at the time, much more difficult for him to process the loss"

The new legislation will put Jersey in line with the UK which brought in 'Jack's Law' in April 2020.

However, if you lose a child between 12 and 24 weeks, there will still be no help available, despite new legislation.

Jo Nash Credit: ITV Channel

The founder of a charity which supports bereaved families feels the law should be applicable to parents from the moment they find out they are pregnant.

"I would very much like to see it applied to people who lose a baby at any gestation. I know there is this legal cut off at 24 weeks and it's not recognised as a legal person, they have no birth certificate and that's the difficulty with this"

Jersey's Assistant Social Security Minister believes the introduction of the law at 24 weeks is appropriate.

Deputy Malcolm Ferey Credit: ITV Channel

"It's a very fine line isn't it and obviously a loss of any child at any age is a tragedy in itself, but it was felt that that 24 week point was the fairest for everybody concerned."

In Guernsey however no such law is currently being looked into, but the States does encourage employers to offer it.

Rev. Linda Linda Vasseur is a health and social care chaplin in Guernsey Credit: ITV Channel

Rev. Linda Le Vasseur, a local campaigner, fears this could add financial burden if parents decide to take unpaid leave.

"When you've just lost a child, the last thing you want to be thinking about is 'can I pay my rent, can I pay my mortgage, am I going to get into debt' that you really don't want to be thinking about that at that time, so I think it's incredibly important that employers do everything within their power to support their staff"

The government says the introduction of the law in Jersey has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and the stat of a new political term.

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