UK April 2020: Paid bereavement leave for parents who lose a child

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UK April 2020: Paid bereavement leave for parents who lose a child

Parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to two weeks paid statutory parental bereavement leave (SPBL).

This law will come in to effect from the 6th April this year and was announced by Andrea Leadsom, business secretary.

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulation is known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd, a 23-month-old who died in a pond.

Parents will be able to take the two weeks leave in one go or two separate blocks of one week taken at different times across the first year after the child’s death.

Andrea Leadsom, business secretary, said:

There can be few worse experiences in life than the loss of a child and I am proud that this government is delivering ‘Jack’s Law’, making us the first country in the world to do so.

When it takes effect, Jack’s Law will be a fitting testament to the tireless efforts of Lucy Herd, alongside many charities, to give parents greater support.

Lucy Herd, mother of Jack Herd who has been campaigning for additional time off to bereaved parents since the passing of her son said:

When I started this campaign ten years ago after the death of my son Jack, I always hoped that a positive change would happen in his memory. Knowing that nearly ten years of campaigning has helped create ‘Jack’s Law’ is the most wonderful feeling, but it is bittersweet at the same time. I am so grateful to all those involved who have helped make this possible. I was told many times that I would not succeed but Jack’s Law will now ensure that bereaved parents are better protected in the future.

The CIPD has welcomed the introduction of Jack’s Law. Claire McCartney, resourcing and inclusion adviser for the CIPD said:

Suffering the loss of a child is a devastating experience and bereaved parents should be treated with compassion and support in the workplace. While the introduction of two weeks’ statutory leave is welcome, this is the absolute minimum that businesses need to do to support a grieving parent.

The person will need time to come to terms with what has happened and will be highly unlikely to be able to perform well at work if they are forced to return too quickly. Organisations need to think of the support they can give to bereaved parents beyond the two-week period laid out in Jack’s Law.

They need to build supportive cultures and ensure that line managers are able to have sensitive conversations with employees affected. They should also think about how they can support bereaved parents through a phased return to work, flexible working provisions and employee support programmes.

Many businesses will have counselling, occupational health and employee assistance programmes available to support their people. They should also signpost to relevant organisations and charities that can support bereaved working parents; this will be particularly important for smaller businesses with limited resources.

The CIPD fully supports the introduction of ‘Jack’s Law’ and we’ll work with HR professionals and organisations to raise awareness of this important change in law.

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