Parental Bereavement Leave Becomes Law in April

By April Harrington.
27 Jan 2020

In 2010, Lucy Herd lost her son Jack. She was shocked to find how little time her partner could take off work to grieve. Following this tragic event, Lucy began campaigning for greater leave entitlement for grieving parents.

Ten years later, that goal has become a reality. Parental bereavement leave, also known as Jack’s Law, will give parents the right to two weeks of leave after the loss of a child. The law will come into force on 6th April 2020.

Jack’s Law

How will it work?

Employees will be able to take two weeks of leave when they suffer the loss of a child. This can either be a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy or the death of a child under the age of 18.

This will be a right from day-one of employment. Staff will be able to take their two weeks of leave in a number of ways:

  • One single block of leave
  • One single black of two weeks’ leave
  • Two separate blocks of one week of leave

Employees will have 56 weeks following the death of their child to take this leave. This has been lengthened to reflect the likelihood of a long-term grieving process.

Final confirmations

There are still a number of key areas that are to be confirmed. These regulations are likely to be announced soon.

One area that needs further clarity is who is eligible to parental bereavement leave. We understand that this right will apply to employees who fall into the following categories:

  • birth parents
  • adoptive parents
  • legal guardians
  • those with court orders providing daily care responsibilities
  • foster parents (although it may not include emergency foster care)
  • kinship carers

What about bereavement pay?

Employees with 26 weeks’ or more continuous service with an organisation will be eligible for payment of statutory bereavement leave pay. It’s likely that this will be paid at the same rates as maternity and paternity leave. As of 5 April 2020, these rates are set to rise to £151.20 per week.

This leave probably won’t replace any existing provisions in place to assist employees. For example, employees will retain the right to take time off for dependants. This is in place to deal with emergencies involving dependants, such as children, including the sudden death of a child.

If an employee wishes to take the leave within 56 days of their child’s death, they must provide notice to their employer. They must provide this either before they are due to start work on their first day of absence, or as soon as is reasonably practical.

Following the initial 56- day period, they will need to provide at least one week’s notice. Notification should include three things:

  • The date of the child’s death
  • The date they wish their chosen period of absence to begin
  • Whether the absence will be for one or two weeks

Expert support

With the particulars of this legislation still uncertain you’ll need to keep an eye on any updates. Bereavement leave can apply other forms of loss including pets and family members so it is important to know your responsibilities. To stay in the know, and receive advice on how to prepare, speak to a Croner expert today on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

April Harrington.

An experienced Senior Employment Law Consultant, who has worked for the group for over 9 years. April specialises in discrimination legislation. April has an extensive background in training, as well as recruitment and hospitality.