The UK government has announced that from 6th April 2020 parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will be entitlement to bereavement leave and pay.
As a result, the UK will be the first in the world to offer parental bereavement leave and pay.
The regulation known as ‘Jack’s Law’ has been campaigned for, in memory of Jack Herd, by his mother since 2010, when Jack’s father was only able to take three days leave (including the day of the funeral) after his son’s death.
Shockingly, this is not the only case. In some situations, parents have even had to take holiday leave to attend their child’s funeral.
What is the Current Law (Prior to April 2020)?
- Employers are not obliged to grant compassionate leave in the event of bereavement or family illness, however, some do with the below conditions:
- The leave may be paid or unpaid.
- You’re usually entitled to one or two days off work (however, this may differ from company to company).
- Alternatively, the statutory right to time off for dependants may apply. If anyone is classed as an employee, you will have the right to time off for a “dependant”.
- The time off is to deal with any unexpected issues and/or emergencies involving the dependant.
- The law states that you may take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off.
- Dependant leave is unpaid.
- Lastly, you can treat time off for bereavement as sick leave or holiday leave, depending on the workplace policy and the circumstances:
- If you take time off as sick leave or holiday leave, their sick or holiday pay will apply in the normal way.
How is Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Changing (After April 2020)?
- Provides employees with a day-one right.
- Parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy will receive 2 weeks of paid leave.
- The leave can be taken as a single block of two weeks or as two blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year of the child’s death.
- The leave is paid at the lower of £151.20 per week (increase April each year) or 90% of the employee’s salary.
However, it is important to note that the notice provisions are quite onerous, considering the circumstances of the required leave.
- You must give notice to your employer of your intention to take parental bereavement leave and must provide the following:
- Date of the child’s birth.
- Date on which you choose any period of absence to begin.
- Whether you intend that period of absence to be for one or two weeks of parental bereavement leave.
- If you intend for any week to be treated as parental bereavement leave (the first 56 days beginning on child’s birth) you must notify their employer:
- You must notify your employer before you are due to start work on the first day of absence from work; or
- Where it is not reasonable for you to give notice as above, you must do so as soon as is reasonably practicable.
- If any week is intended to be treated as parental bereavement leave after the 56 day period, you must give your employer at least one week notice before the start of the week.
- You may not cancel any week of parental leave which has already commenced.
The legal right to parental bereavement leave has been praised for the fact that it now provides parents with a grieving period as opposed to just one or two days under current law (prior April 2020).
There are those who state that 2 weeks is not enough and that the regulations do not support grieving parents.
However, those who have suffered a loss of a child and have only been given one to two days leave have stated that they welcome the new government rules, that although two weeks are not considered to be much it does provide parents with some breathing space.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom stated that the measures were “a minimum, and something to build on”.
What Should Businesses Do Next?
- Review your current terms and conditions.
- Review your staff handbook; do you have a policy in place?
- Seek advice to help you understand the forthcoming changes.
How Can Howells Help?
If you have experienced a loss and would like legal advice, or are an employer looking to update your legal policies, our empathetic and experienced solicitors can help. Get in touch today to discuss your case.