January 27, 2020

New Parental Bereavement Leave: Jack’s Law

“Jack’s Law” is named after 23-month-old Jack Herd who died in 2010. His mum Lucy has since been fighting for new government rules to extend bereavement leave for parents who lose a child.

To recognise that losing a child has such a devastating impact on the family, the Government introduced a new piece of legislation – the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018. Parents who lose a child will be entitled to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave, as of 6 April this year.

This new statutory entitlement for bereaved parents, will be paid at the same statutory rate as other family leave such as maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave. 

Definition of a child 

There are two areas covered by Jack’s Law 

  • A child, defined as a person who is under the age of 18 
  • A stillborn baby at 24 weeks or more into pregnancy 

Definition of a parent 

The legislation, originally to be natural parents, has been extended to include primary carers as well. This means that adopters, foster parents, guardians, close relatives or family friends who have taken responsibility for the child’s care in the absence of the parents, are all eligible for the parental bereavement leave. 

Eligibility 

In order to receive paid time off, the employee must have been employed for a minimum of 26 continuous weeks. 

Employees with less than 26 weeks’ continuous service will receive the time off unpaid. 

How much leave do you get? 

Parental bereavement leave is either one continuous block of two weeks, or two separate one-week blocks. The time can be taken immediately after the death, or at any time up to 56 weeks after the death of the child.

Further, the leave can be taken immediately after the death of the child without having to give a period of notice. However, if the leave needs to be taken at a later time, the employee must provide one week’s notice. 

This recognises that it isn’t just the immediate aftermath of the death that is difficult. Leave may also be needed later to attend an inquest or to mark the first anniversary of the death of the child. 

Supporting bereaved employees 

As an employer, it’s important to remember that everyone grieves in their own way. And allowing your employees to take leave at a time which best suits them is extremely important when supporting them. However, employees may need further support when returning to work; here are some things to consider:

  • Employers need to be aware of the impact that such a loss may have on their employee. Ensure that the people they work with are aware of the situation and encourage them to offer their support if it’s needed.   
  • Think about whether flexible working for a short period would assist the bereaved employee in getting back to work.
  • Have an opendoor policy where the employee can come and speak to you to about their situation and agree the way forward.
  • Remember that concentration for a time after the death of the child may not be the same as before. In such a situation, see if there is anything you can do to helpmaybe offering time out for an additional coffee break would help to get their thoughts back on track. 
  • It’s important that there is some kind of support network available, whether this is the employee’s line manager, their colleagues, HR or anyone else that they can talk to if necessary. The more support given, the more likely it is that the employee will be able to return to their normal work sooner.
  • If you don’t provide an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for your employees, it’s a good way to give confidential, third-party support. To find out more, take a look at the EAP service that Moorepay offers and speak to sales if you’d like to know more.

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About the author

Elaine Pritchard

Elaine has a wealth of knowledge in producing contracts, training materials and other documentation as well as training other consultants. She piloted a scheme whereby she went on-site to act as a client’s HR Manager two days per week, whilst the post-holder was on maternity leave. Elaine also previously ran her own retail business for seven years, employing four people. Elaine is a field based consultant for Moorepay and provides on-site HR and Employment Law advice, consultancy and training services to our clients.