Belfast City Council to argue two weeks statutory paid bereavement le…

Belfast City Council is to look at giving two weeks statutory bereavement leave and pay to all its workers.

At the council’s monthly complete meeting (October 4th), People Before Profit Councillor Matt Collins forwarded a motion urging all council staff, whether they be a bereaved close relative or partner, to be legally entitled to two weeks off with complete pay, in line with the Coalition for Bereaved Workers campaign objectives.

Council workers currently have three days leave. The motion will be debated later this month at the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.

Last year Westminster brought in new rules so parents in Great Britain get bereavement leave up to two weeks. Stormont’s Economy department introduced a bill last month to get Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.

But the Coalition for Bereaved Workers has stated the Stormont legislation, currently at committee stage, is a “missed opportunity” and “does not go far enough.”

The coalition is made up of the Marie Curie charity, Action Mental Health, the Alzheimer’s Society, Carers NI, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Cruse Bereavement Care, NIPSA and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The Belfast Council motion also urges the Stormont Economy Committee to further the legislation on bereavement policy so that everyone who is bereaved of a close relative or partner is entitled to two weeks statutory bereavement leave and pay.

Councillor Collins said: “The Covid pandemic has shone a spotlight on the without of protections and sustain for frontline workers. One area has been the absence of provision in place to ensure bereavement pay for workers. Stormont legislation in this area is harsh and greatly lags behind, and as it stands Belfast City Council staff are offered three days leave when they confront bereavement of a close relative.

“This motion intends to expand this, to ensure at the minimum two weeks paid leave for bereaved Council workers. The motion is based on ‘A Call to Action’ from the The Coalition for Bereaved Workers.

“If implemented, this proposal would be a step forward in helping workers find the time, space and financial security they need to deal with bereavement and grief. The absence of proper bereavement leave forces many workers to use sickness absence to take time off – which falsely equates the loss of a loved one with illness.

“Too many workers report that they can’t take the time they need during a bereavement; others report worries about how it would impact their job security and their financial security. We must urgently try and address this wrong, especially amidst a pandemic, when far too many council workers have had to cope with the loss of a close relative or loved one. I hope all parties in council will get behind this motion.”



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