The UK is to introduce ‘Jack’s Law’ in April, the new legal right to paid parental bereavement. Essentially, parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave when the legislation comes into effect.
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 all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.
Parents 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.
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. When it takes effect, Jack’s Law will be a fitting testament to the tireless efforts of Lucy Herd, alongside many charities, to give parents greater support.”
Lucy Herd said, “In the immediate aftermath of a child dying, parents have to cope with their own loss, the grief of their wider family, including other children, as well as a vast amount of administrative paperwork and other arrangements. A sudden or accidental death may require a post-mortem or inquest; there is a funeral to arrange; and there are many other organisations to contact, from schools to benefit offices.”
“When I started this campaign 10 years ago after the death of my son Jack, I always hoped that a positive change would happen in his memory. Knowing that nearly 10 years of campaigning has helped create ‘Jack’s Law’ is the most wonderful feeling, but it is bittersweet at the same time. I am so grateful to all those involved who have helped make this possible. I was told many times that I would not succeed but Jack’s Law will now ensure that bereaved parents are better protected in the future.”
Alison Penny, Coordinator of the National Bereavement Alliance said that “Many parents are forced to make hard choices about returning to work at a desperately difficult time following their child’s death, fearing loss of pay or job security if they take time off. We welcome the significant step the government has made in introducing minimum provision for parents, and would like to see employers demonstrate a genuine commitment to grieving colleagues by treating them compassionately and with the support they need.”
Joseph Barsby, Managing Director of G. Seller welcomes the new legislation adding that “The loss of a child is difficult for any family and we welcome this change as it affords precious time to parents to do what needs to be done without the pressures of work commitments.”
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 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval of the legislation. Parents employed in a job for 6 months or more will also be able to claim statutory pay for this period, in line with the approach for other parental entitlements, such as paternity leave and pay.