As the UK law currently stands, there is no automatic statutory right to paid time off for bereavement. However, the new law will allow parents who lose a child to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave.
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is due to come into force on 6 April 2020. It’s known as Jack’s Law, in memory of Jack Herd, whose mother Lucy has been campaigning for reform since he drowned aged 23 months in 2010.
Under the new law, it is expected that all employed parents (regardless of their length of service) will have a right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a still birth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Employed parents with at least 26 weeks’ service, who meet minimum earnings criteria, will also qualify for Parental Bereavement Pay (which is expected to be the lesser of either a weekly statutory rate of £151.20 or 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings).
The entitlement is to a separate period of paid leave for the loss of each child and so it is expected that those suffering from the loss of two children, for example, will be entitled to two lots of the two weeks’ paid leave.
Those protected under the new law will include legal parents, legal guardians, foster parents, kinship carers and individuals who have obtained court orders which give them day-to-day responsibility for caring for the child.
It is anticipated that the leave can be taken as a single block or as two separate blocks of one week within 56 weeks from the date of the child’s death. Initially the leave was to be taken within eight weeks of the child’s death. However, this has been extended following consultation to offer bereaved parents the flexibility to take the leave at times when they most need it to support their grieving, including the first anniversary of the child’s death.
If you are either an employer or an employee and wish to understand your legal obligations or rights under the new law, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist employment team.