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New paid leave rules for bereaved parents

Working parents who lose a child will be entitled to up to two weeks paid bereavement leave from 6 April 2020.

According to the government, this makes the UK the most generous country in the world when it comes to statutory parental bereavement leave.

Many countries provide no paid parental bereavement leave at all and those that do, including France, New Zealand and South Africa, offer just three days whilst Australia, Canada, Spain and Brazil allow only two.

Jack's Law

The new regulations are known as Jack's Law in memory of Jack Herd who died after drowning in a pond aged 23 months in 2010. His father was allowed just three days paid leave after his death, one of which had to be for the funeral.

Jack's mother, Lucy, has campaigned for a change in the law ever since.

Alison Penny, Coordinator of the National Bereavement Alliance said: "Many parents are forced to make hard choices about returning to work at a desperately difficult time following their child's death, fearing loss of pay or job security if they take time off.

"We welcome the significant step the government has made in introducing minimum provision for parents and would like to see employers demonstrate a genuine commitment to grieving colleagues by treating them compassionately and with the support they need."

Key points

The new rules will implement a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks' leave for all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.

It applies to:

  • Biological parents (and their partners);
  • Adoptive parents;
  • Anyone with parental responsibility.

Potentially, it will also apply to foster parents and family members who care for a child in the absence of their parents.

How much is it?

Statutory parental bereavement pay will be paid at the same rate as statutory paternity pay i.e. £151.20 per week from April 2020 or 90 per cent of the parent's weekly earnings if that is lower.

It will be paid for parents who have at least 26 weeks' service and who meet minimum earnings criteria.

Taking the time off

Qualifying parents can take up to two weeks' leave each. This can be taken in either a single block of two weeks or as two separate weeks at any time in the year after their child's death.

For help and information about this area of the law please contact Wards Solicitors' specialist Employment Team or Partner Joe Nicholls directly.