Jack’s Law: What does it mean for bereaved parents and how will it affect your business?

Karen Coleman, Employment Law specialist, Excello Law, examines the proposed introduction of Jack’s Law. 

Parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave under new rules to be known as Jack’s Law.

The legislation will see those who suffer the loss of a child receive paid time off for bereavement – something that is not currently an automatic right.

Of course, most employers will want to be as sympathetic as possible to their staff in such tragic circumstances and will already be doing all they can to support parents who lose a child.

However, nothing has previously been laid down in Employment Law and the new laws are a welcome clarification for both parents and their employers.

Jack’s Law is named in memory of Jack Herd, whose mother, Lucy, has been campaigning for a reformation of bereavement laws ever since her son drowned aged 23 months, in 2010. Lucy Herd started campaigning for change after discovering that there was a lack of consistency in how compassionate leave was considered.

Until now, the official position, according to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), was that anyone classed as an employee has the right to time off for a ‘dependant,’ and that “this time off is for dealing with unexpected issues and emergencies involving the dependant, including leave to arrange or attend a funeral.”

This could be problematic as it doesn’t give a guideline on time allowed, only saying it should be ‘reasonable” and there’s no stipulation that the leave should be paid leave.

ACAS states that many employers do choose to offer pay when someone’s been bereaved, but  the amount they offer is up to them.

Parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will now be able to take bereavement leave as either a single block of two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week each across the first year after the death, under the new law.

What does the new law mean?

Anyone who has been employed for at least 26 weeks will be entitled to a minimum payment of up to £148 a week during their bereavement leave. However, this depends on the level of their salary.

Jack’s Law is set to come into force in April 2020.

The Government has described Jack’s Law as “the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world.”

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.”

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.

Jack’s Law  will come into force on 6 April 2020, subject to Parliamentary approval of the legislation. 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.

ENDS

For further information please contact Karen Coleman, telephone 07985 237002, email kcoleman@excellolaw.co.uk.

www.colemanhrlaw.co.uk.