The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations set to come into force on 6 April 2020

Downs Solicitors is pleased to play a small part in helping to raise awareness of a new and important piece of employment law that is coming into force in April 2020. The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations will be known as Jack’s Law. This is in memory of Jack Herd who died in 2010 and whose mother, Lucy, has campaigned tirelessly ever since for mandatory leave for grieving parents.

The number of children who die each year is sobering. There are around 7,500 child deaths, including c3,000 stillbirths (death after 24 weeks of pregnancy) that occur in the UK.

A summary of the new entitlement

  • Working parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will get two weeks’ statutory leave. This also includes adults with ‘parental responsibility’.
  • The leave entitlement is not connected to any length of service (but six months’ service is required for statutory bereavement pay).
  • The leave can be taken in 2 x 1 week blocks, or a 1 x 2 week block within a year of the child’s passing.

Statutory bereavement pay

To be eligible for statutory bereavement pay, employees must have accrued 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employers and have weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit of £118 per week (for 2019 to 2020). At the date of introduction, bereavement pay will be paid at the rate of £148.68 per week (for 2019/20) or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is the lower amount). To reiterate, the unpaid leave entitlement (but not pay) starts from day one of employment.

What employers should be aware of?

  • Employers are not entitled to request sight of the child’s death certificate to validate the request for bereavement leave.
  • The ability for businesses to recover some, or all, of the bereavement leave payments will depend on the size of the business.
  • Customs and traditions surrounding bereavement and funerals can differ across religions. Employers should be mindful of managers’ responses to requests that may impinge on issues surrounding religious discrimination.
  • As employees have the right to keep details of a child’s death confidential, an employer must remain cognisant of how they communicate absence and the overall situation within their teams.

Finally, the sensitive handling of a bereavement being experienced by a staff member does not begin and end with these new regulations. Bereavement is a process and not one that can be pegged to a fixed period of time. Employers may want to engage with their employee about other support that may be made available to help during such an unwanted and traumatic period in someone’s life.  

If you are an employer and need any advice on this subject, contact the Employment Team at Downs Solicitors for more information.

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