Belfast City Council introduces extended bereavement leave and pay

Belfast City Council Belfast City Council is to give all workers two weeks of statutory bereavement leave and pay, subject to trade union consultations.

In a meeting of its Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, councillors gave unanimous support to give staff 10 consecutive work days of bereavement leave as a day one right, including for the death of a close relative and the loss of a child under the age of 18. This is seven more days than the current entitlement. It also will award one day of paid leave so staff can attend the funeral of an extended family member.

The council has additionally agreed to treat miscarriage as a bereavement and offer 10 days of fully paid leave to employees who experience this as a day one right. It will also award 10 days of fully paid leave following unsuccessful IVF treatment to workers, also as a day one right, in addition to existing paid time off allowances for medical appointments.

Michelle Kelly, alliance councillor, who forwarded the original motion on miscarriage leave, said: “I think this report is incredibly important, and I want to thank the officer for the work they have undertaken on all three of the motions and the recognition that current leave arrangements just don’t reflect the very traumatic circumstances that people unfortunately have to go through.

“The treatment of miscarriage as a bereavement is really such a massive step forward and will be welcomed by so many. There is undoubtedly a stigma around it, and in many cases, sadly a rather blasé attitude, with no thought given to the impact that it can have.”

Matt Collins, People Before Profit councillor, who put forward the original motion for bereavement pay, added: “This new policy is a step forward in helping workers find the space and financial security they need to deal with bereavement and grief. The absence of proper bereavement leave had previously forced many workers to use sickness absence to take time off. This falsely equated the loss of a loved one with illness. This type of protection should be enshrined in law for all workers.”