UK set to introduce ‘Jack’s Law’ – new legal right to paid parental bereavement leave
Working parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will get 2 weeks’ statutory leave the new legal right to 2 weeks’ paid bereavement leave, to be called ‘Jack’s Law’, is a world-first parental bereavement leave is the first of a raft of new employment reforms to make the UK the best place in the world to work and to start a business.
Parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced as she laid new regulations in Parliament.
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.
This is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world, set to take effect from April 2020.
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.
All employers need to ensure they know about this important change in the law and what additional support they can offer to bereaved parents in their workplace, as this is a vital time for them in their grieving process.
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 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval of the legislation being laid. 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.
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.
The entitlement to 2 weeks paid bereavement leave is the longest period worldwide, making the UK’s offer the most generous in the world.
The right to Parental Bereavement Leave (PBL) will apply to all employed parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth (from 24 weeks of pregnancy), 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-earning 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.
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