Dad wins parental leave battle to change law after wife's death in childbirth

Aaron smiling wearing a red jumper and white shirt and his son Tim wearing a crocodile top in a park
-Credit: (Image: Aaron Horsey)

A father who was not entitled to parental leave following his wife's death in childbirth has created a new law on the last day of Parliament. Aaron Horsey found out he wasn't entitled to parental leave after his wife, Bernadette, died aged 31 following the birth of the couple's son, Tim.

Tim was born at Royal Derby Hospital in January 2022 and a coroner concluded his mother died of natural causes. Although Mr Horsey, who used to live in Beeston but has now moved to north-west London, received adequate support from his employer despite his short time in the job, he started his campaign for change after contacting his then MP, Darren Henry.

The Conservative MP for Broxtowe has now announced the successful passage of the new law, which grants automatic parental leave rights to bereaved non-birthing partners in England, Wales and Scotland. Mr Horsey says this will prevent other families from falling through the gap.

Aaron and Bernadette Horsey
Aaron and Bernadette Horsey -Credit:Aaron Horsey

He said: "My employers were equally disappointed that they weren't able to support me as much as they wanted and it got me thinking that other people have been in the same position so I reached out to Darren. I explained what the hole in the law was and he fully agreed and has campaigned for change since it finally happened on Friday (May 24).

"It's comforting and it's a relief to know that nobody can fall into the same gap, be it bereaved parents or employers. Employers don't want to be losing good employees because of circumstances and now the law should protect them as well."

Mr Horsey added that the campaign has shown "the best of all people" and that politicians "are able to come together and get changes across when it comes to important issues". He said: "I have received unwavering support throughout the whole journey and Darren and Chris [Elmore, who also supported Mr Horsey's campaign] have been the driving forces within ministries and the government to get that done."

Bernadette Horsey went into cardiac arrest just seconds after seeing her new born son
Bernadette Horsey went into cardiac arrest just seconds after seeing her new born son -Credit:Aaron Horsey

The father, who works as a clinical trial manager, explained that he hopes the change will show his son that "no matter how big the challenge is, little by little, you can do it". He said: "It's an opportunity we wish we hadn't had, but it showed that improvements can be made.

"I'm now hoping that this will be extended to Northern Ireland as well, and I'm sure it will with a bit of encouragement because these things affect people across the whole country. Our priority has been to make sure that everyone in similar situations is now protected."

Darren Henry said: "This law will profoundly impact families in need, and I am proud of the cross-party work that made this possible. The Government expects this will benefit around 100 families a year, providing much-needed support during difficult times."