Bereaved parents to be get 2 weeks’ leave under ‘Jack’s Law’
Parents who suffer the loss of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave under new measures being introduced by the government.
The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations, which will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue, will implement a statutory right to a minimum of 2 weeks’ leave for employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18.
It will also apply to parents who suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.
They will be able to take the leave as either a single block of 2 weeks, or as 2 separate blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death. This means they can match their leave to the times they need it most, which could be in the early days or over the first anniversary.
The right to Parental Bereavement Leave (PBL) will apply to all employed parents irrespective of how long they have been with their employer (the leave is a ‘day-one’ employment right).
Parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit (£118 per week for 2019 to 2020) will also be entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP), paid at the statutory rate of £148.68 per week (for 2019 to 2020), or 90% of average weekly earnings where this is lower.
SPBP will be administered by employers in the same way as existing family-related statutory payments such as Statutory Paternity Pay.
Kevin Hollinrake MP, the sponsor of the original Private Member’s Bill, said: “Losing a child is every parent’s worst fear, but no-one could ever fully understand the utter devastation of such a loss. Whilst most employers are compassionate and generous in these situations, some are not, so I was delighted to be able to help make leave for bereaved parents a legal right.”
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.
The right to parental bereavement leave and pay makes the UK one of a very few countries worldwide to offer such support, and the first to offer a full 2 weeks. It will come into force on 6 April this year, subject to Parliamentary approval of the legislation.
This new law arrives ahead of the government’s new Employment Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech in December, which will introduce a raft of further measures to benefit workers and businesses including carer’s leave and neonatal pay.
Please contact David Rushmere if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.