Parental bereavement leave: What you need to know
Published: April 8 2020
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act was launched on 13 September 2018 and came into force on 6 April 2020. The legislation is known as ‘Jack’s Law’ in memory of Jack Herd whose mother, Lucy, campaigned for mandatory leave for grieving parents.
Who is entitled?
Employees who are parents or adults with parental responsibility such as adopters, foster parents and guardians will be entitled to parental bereavement leave if they have suffered the loss of a child under the age of 18.
The new entitlement will also apply to parents who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. It’s also important to point out that female employees will still be entitled to maternity leave and pay (if they meet the qualifying criteria).
All employees are entitled to unpaid leave as a right from day one of their employment, however, employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to paid leave.
What is the entitlement?
- Employees will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory leave. Those who are entitled to paid leave will receive pay at the statutory rate.
- The time off can be taken in either a single two-week block or as two one-week periods, within 56 weeks of the child’s death, allowing people to take the time when they need it, such as anniversaries or other prominent dates.
- If more than one child dies, the employee will be entitled to leave in respect of each child.
What can you do?
Review of current arrangements
- You may want to use this opportunity to review any compassionate or bereavement leave. Does it reflect what happens in practice? Does it reflect the requirements of different racial or religious groups who may respect specific practices when in mourning?
- If you don’t have a policy in place, then you should consider implementing one in order to best provide support for those eligible and to recognise that grief is a process.
- An effective policy must look after an employee’s wellbeing in the longer-term rather than short-term so that it can help to bring them back to their full potential. You may also consider enhancing the statutory minimum pay or even offer full pay.
- No doubt such circumstances would pose difficulties for any eligible employees. They may experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which could be considered a disability under the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, you should seek medical advice and make reasonable adjustments to their working arrangements where necessary. Encourage them to make use of your employee assistance programme (EAP) or something similar that you may have in place.
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If you need further advice regarding parental bereavement leave or assistance drafting policies, then we can help. Contact one of the Kent HR team today.
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