Jack’s Law to be introduced in the UK

The Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 and The Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020 (made under the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018), which will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue, will come into effect from 6 April 2020 (subject to Parliamentary approval of the draft legislation being laid on 23 January 2020).

The right to statutory parental bereavement leave (SPBL) will give all employed parents a statutory right of up to 2 weeks' leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. This entitlement is the longest period offered worldwide for bereavement leave.

The right applies to the child's parent(s), which includes an adoptive parent, prospective adopter, intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement, a parent "in fact" (someone looking after the child in that person's own home for the last four weeks), or that person's spouse, partner or civil partner, but not a paid carer.
SPBL can be leave of one week, two continuous weeks, or two separate weeks, starting on any day of the week. The leave may be used anytime in first 56 weeks after death or stillbirth of child.

This is a ‘day-one’ employment right, meaning it applies  irrespective of how long they have been with an employer.

In terms of the notice to be given to take such leave:

  • During first seven weeks, an employee only needs to give notice of intention to take leave before they are due to start work on the first day of leave.

  • From weeks 8 to 56, the leave requires at least a week's notice.

Leave can be cancelled or rearranged with the same degree of notice as above.

Please note that employees are protected from dismissal or detriment for exercising their right to such leave.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay

Those with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service and weekly average earnings over the lower earning limit (currently £118 per week for 2019/20 but likely to rise as of 6 April 2020) will also be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay (SPBP) at the then rate of £151.20 per week (for the period 2020/21), or 90% of average weekly earnings if lower. SPBP is not payable during a week in which the employee does any work for the employer.   

SPBP is to be administered by employers in the same way as existing family-related statutory payments such as Statutory Paternity Pay.

Psychological and mental health

The loss of a child is extremely stressful and whilst SBPL is welcome, employers still need to consider the mental welfare of their employees. Poor psychological and mental health can cause significant cost to your business. You should consider how you can offer further support at difficult times for example, additional time off, counselling or an Employee Assistance Programme.

Find out more about the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018.

If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Alcumus PSM HR team for assistance via email psm.enquiries@alcumusgroup.com or call us on 01484 439930.

Alcumus PSM (People & Safety Management) specialises in human resources (HR) and health and safety (H&S) consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.