Parents who suffer the loss of a child will now receive two weeks of bereavement leave under new rules that are due to come into effect.
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.
What is Jack’s Law?
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.
There is no automatic right to paid time off for bereavement in the UK, as the law currently stands. Ms Herd, from Cumbria, told the BBC that after talking to her relatives she found that three days was sometimes the maximum amount of leave that workplaces offered for parents to grieve.
After speaking to other bereaved parents, Ms Herd also found a gap between what employers were saying and how working parents were actually being treated.
Ms Herd then started campaigning for change, and the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill received royal assent in 2018, with new rules now set to come into place.
What is the current bereavement leave allowance?
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) explains that anyone classed as an employee does have the right to time off for a ‘dependant,’ adding that “this time off is for dealing with unexpected issues and emergencies involving the dependant, including leave to arrange or attend a funeral.”
However, the law does not say how much time can be taken off for a dependant – it simply says the amount should be ‘reasonable’.
“Employers can treat time off for bereavement as sick leave or holiday leave, depending on their workplace policy and the individual circumstances,” ACAS says.
Until Jack’s Law comes into place, there is not currently an automatic right to paid time off for bereavement.
ACAS clarifies that “many employers do choose to offer pay when someone’s been bereaved,” but that “the amount they offer is up to them.
“If the employee takes the time off as sick leave or holiday leave, their normal sick or holiday pay will apply.”
What will this new law mean?
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.
These new rules will now mean that those who have 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.
When does this new law come into place?
The new rules are set to come into play in April 2020, and Ms Herd would now like to see similar bereavement rights extended to those who are grieving any loved one.