The Government has announced that parents in the UK who lose a child will be entitled to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave from April 2020.
The new law applies to parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or who suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. They will be able to take bereavement leave as a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of one week during the first year after the death. All employees will have this right, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.
The new Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill is known as ‘Jack’s Law’. It is named after Jack Herd who drowned aged 23 months in 2010. Jack’s father was allowed just three days to grieve, including time off to attend the funeral. Jack’s mum, Lucy Herd, then began a campaign to give more leave rights to bereaved parents. There is currently no legal right to compassionate or bereavement leave. Employees are entitled to take time off if they need to deal with an emergency relating to a dependant such as child, spouse or anyone who depends on them for care.
The current law does not specify how much time should be allowed, but it should be a reasonable amount of time to deal with the emergency. Employers do not have to pay employees for the time they take off. Around 7,500 child deaths, including around 3,000 stillbirths, occur in the UK every year. The government estimates that this new entitlement will help to support around 10,000 parents a year. This will be the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom, said: “There can be few worse experiences in life than the loss of a child and I am proud that this government is delivering ‘Jack’s Law’, making us the first country in the world to do so.”
Hilary Hall, NHBF chief executive, added: “Discussing a child’s death with an employee is one of the worst conversations a salon owner could ever have. We welcome this new law as it brings clarity and uniformity for employers and employees in an extremely difficult and stressful situation.”