New leave rights for bereaved parents

A new law now gives parents who lose a child the right to take two weeks of paid bereavement leave.

Andrew Bevan, Head of Employment Law at Jones & Co Solicitors, recommends that employers become familiar with their responsibilities under the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, also known as Jack’s Law.

The new legislation gives parents a right to parental bereavement leave and statutory parental bereavement pay if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Andrew said: “This new right to pay and leave will apply to parents of children who die from 6 April 2020 onwards. For stillborn babies, the date of death will be the same as the date of birth. Parents will be entitled to one statutory parental bereavement leave for each child if more than one death occurs.

“Employers need to be aware that parents are not just defined as biological parents who have legal contact rights with their child, but could be other primary carers, such as adopters, foster parents or relatives, if they took day to day responsibility for the care of the child when the parents became unable to.

“An employee will need to have done at least 26 weeks continuous service to be allowed the statutory bereavement pay, while anyone employed for less than 26 weeks will be entitled to unpaid leave.

“Bereaved parents can take the leave in one block or in two separate blocks of one week, within 56 weeks of the child’s death, but they are not obliged to take the full entitlement.

“It’s important to bear in mind that many parents will be unable to give notice ahead of taking leave like this. They are likely to simply need to complete a declaration form when they return to work. Employers do not need to ask to see the child’s death certificate.

“For those parents who worry about taking time off, getting behind with work or losing their job security, Jack’s Law provides some reassurance. Employers should make themselves familiar with the new law and be ready to support any employee taking parental bereavement leave, if the need ever arises.

To discuss this in more detail, or to make an appointment with the employment law team at Jones & Co Solicitors, please contact your nearest office.