We have previously reported on a raft of employment law changes that are due in April this year, however, as it stands, one will be a world first.
Known as “Jack’s Law” in memory of Jack Herd, working parents who suffer the devastating loss of a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to take 2 weeks bereavement leave, something which isn’t currently an automatic employment right.
The regulations made under the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 will be a “day one” statutory right and employees who have 26 continuous weeks’ service will also qualify for statutory bereavement pay. The current rate of statutory bereavement pay will be in line with other statutory family related payments which, from 6th April 2020, will be £151.20 or 90% of weekly earnings if lower.
The bereavement leave is available to all employed parents and adults with parental responsibility who have suffered the loss of a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Adults with parental responsibility extends to adoptive parents, guardians, foster parents and primary carers.
Whilst the statutory leave entitlement is 2 weeks, these 2 weeks needn’t be taken consecutively. A parent can decide to take a week’s leave, return to work and then take another week at a later time (within 56 weeks from the date of the death) to recognise associated difficult times, such as the anniversary of the child’s death.
As this right will be introduced within the next few months employers should start to take action, not just by recognising and acknowledging the new legislation but by updating staff handbooks to address the employee’s additional rights.