RYEDALE’s MP has been thanked by the Prime Minister for his role in introducing new legislation that extends work leave for parents who have lost a child.

Kevin Hollinrake, member of parliament for the Thirsk and Malton constituency, was sponsor of the Parental Leave and Pay Bill which received Royal Assent on Thursday.

Mr Hollinrake said: “I am proud and deeply honoured that my Parental Leave and Pay Bill, which will give grieving parents the right to paid bereavement leave has received Royal Assent.

“It means that, for the first time, employed parents who lose a child under 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, will receive two weeks’ leave when it comes into force in 2020.

“I am grateful to Lord Knight and fellow MPs, of all political persuasions, some of whom have shared their own personal stories of losing a beloved child, who have assisted in bringing forward this legislation so quickly.”

Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted that the new law will ensure that bereaved parents will have “the time they need” to grieve.

“My thanks to Kevin Hollinrake and MPs from across the House who helped make this happen,” she added.

Kelly Tolhurst MP, business minister, said “This law makes Parental Bereavement Leave a legal right for the first time in the UK’s history.

“Losing a child is an unimaginable trauma. I am delighted we have reached this important milestone which so many have campaigned for.”

One key local campaigner for parental bereavement awareness is Annika Dowson, who lives in Helmsley with husband James and son Nathaniel.

The couple’s daughter, Gypsy, was stillborn in 2008.

On the passing of the new Bill, Annika wrote on social media that it was a “bittersweet” day.

“Fantastic, well done and thank you to all those who made this happen,” she added.

The issue was first brought to the fore in the previous parliamentary session by Will Quince MP in a ‘Ten-Minute Rule Motion’ on statutory entitlement.

Mr Quince said: “There can be few worse life experiences than the loss of a child and while most employers treat their staff with dignity and compassion when this tragedy occurs, all too often we have heard stories of grieving parents being forced back to work too early.

“I am delighted that parents in this awful situation will now have the protection of paid leave enshrined in law, and we should be very proud that the UK now has one of the best worker’s rights in this area in the world.”