‘Jack’s Law’. A new legal right to paid bereavement leave for parents.
26th February 2020 by Byron Sims
New regulations are to be introduced this year entitling parents to two weeks’ leave should they suffer the loss of a child, providing real time to grieve.
Why Jack’s Law?
The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations (the Regulations) will be known as “Jack’s Law in memory of the tragic death of Jack Herd, who drowned in a pond before he was two years old. This heart-breaking incident took place in 2010, at which time it was reported that Jack’s father was only allowed three days off work to grieve, one day of which was for the funeral.
Following this, Jack’s mother, Lucy Herd, began a tireless campaign to provide parents the statutory right to time off when bereaved. Lucy believes the new Regulations will help bereaved families and hopes that her son’s death may at least bring some good to those dealing with what for many is an unimaginable loss.
When will this come into force?
The Regulations are due to come into force on 6 April 2020. From this date, all employed parents will be given a statutory right to a minimum of 2 weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18. The Regulations will also apply for parents who have suffered a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Unlike certain other employment rights, this falls under a “day one right”, meaning there is no minimum period of time for which employees have to work for their employer before being able to claim this right.
As helpful as this is, it is not entirely one-sided and does not automatically give parents a right to be paid during bereavement leave. Employees will need to have been working for their employer for a minimum of six months before being entitled to receiving statutory pay. This will reflect other parental rights, such as maternity pay. It is also worth noting that statutory pay is limited and likely to be much lower than an employee’s standard rate of pay.
Parents will be able to choose how they wish to take this leave. It can be taken in one go, or parents may choose to use one week at a time during the year following the death or stillbirth of a child. It is suggested that the anniversary of a child’s death may be particularly traumatic for bereaved parents, at which time they may benefit from taking leave from work.
The government claims that there only a few other countries in the world which offer this kind of support. Further, the government believes that the support on offer is the most generous parental bereavement pay and leave in the world, as no other country offers a full two weeks.
Laceys Solicitors provides specialist services in employment law. If you would like any further advice on your obligations as an employer or rights as an employee, please contact our employment department, on 01202 755204 or Byron Sims, who will be happy to help.