The new Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 (also known as Jack’s Law) will become law on 6th April 2020 (the Regulations have now been published but still need to be passed by Parliament).
Updated December 2020
What does this mean?
It will be a new entitlement for bereaved parents of a child, to allow them to be absent from work with pay for up to 2 weeks.
The new rights will be as follows:
- Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave will be available to all employees who are ‘bereaved parents’ (which means they were the primary carer for a child who has died under the age of 18).
- Leave will be available for all employees from Day 1 (there is no minimum service needed).
- Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay will be available to employee’s with 26 weeks continuous employment with their employer (at the week before the week in which the child dies; as long as they are still be employed by the employer on the day on which their child dies) and where their normal weekly earnings in the 8 weeks up to the week before the child’s death are not less than the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions purposes.
- This entitlement will also be available to adults with parental responsibilities for children, who are not their birth parents, i.e for adoptive parents, those who are fostering to adopt, legal guardians and most foster parents (except those in short-term fostering arrangements).
- It also applies to parents who have suffered a stillbirth 24 weeks or more into pregnancy.
- Where more than one child dies, the parent will have a statutory entitlement to leave and pay in respect of each child.
- Each parent can take two weeks leave, if they meet the qualifying conditions.
- The leave must be taken in units of 1 week (it cannot be taken as individual days) – so it can be taken as a single block of 2 weeks, or 2 separate blocks of 1 week at different times.
- The leave can be taken at any time up to 56 weeks from the date of the death of the child. (This timescale is deliberate as, for example, it would allow an employee to take leave at the first anniversary of the child’s death; and the bereavement leave can be added onto to the end of a 52 week maternity leave).
- Bereavement leave can be taken straight away after the death of the child, and parents will not have to give notice to their employer to take the leave, within the first 8 weeks. Employees will need to tell their employer the date their child died, and when they want the leave to start, and how much time they wish to take off (one or two weeks).
- If this leave is not taken straight away, within the first 8 weeks, (or all of it is not taken straight away), then employee’s will be required to give 1 week’s notice to their employer that they will be taking this leave.
- Parents cannot cancel any week of bereavement leave that they have already started, but they can change the date for the second week by giving 1 week’s notice.
- Employers will not be allowed to request a copy of the child’s death certificate.
- Bereaved parents who are entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay, will need to give their employers written notice within 28 days of taking their first period of leave. They will need to tell their Employer the date of the child’s death, the week (or weeks) in which they want payment to be made, and confirm that they meet the requirements to receive paid leave.
- Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay will be paid at the same rate as Maternity/Paternity/Shared Parental Pay, which will be £151.20 per week (or 90% of their weekly earnings if lower) from April 2020. This will increase to £151.97 from 4th April 2021.
- Parents will not be able to receive paid bereavement leave if they currently receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
- It is believed that small firms would be able to reclaim the full cost from the government, with larger firms being able to reclaim approximately 92%.
- This will only apply in England, Wales and Scotland initially (not Northern Ireland).
- The employee’s Employment rights will be maintained before and after the leave, and they should return to the same job with the same terms and conditions.
- The employee must not suffer detriment or discrimination for taking the statutory entitlement (e.g. they should not be dismissed because they have taken, or want to take, bereavement leave; this would be an automatically unfair dismissal right, i.e. they would not need 2 years service to claim this).
- The Government is encouraging Employees to take this statutory right further and provide employees with more than 2 weeks leave; and/or offer full pay for some or all of their absence.
- This entitlement is separate to the statutory right to take time off to deal with an emergency.
- Government Guidance on the Leave is here.
Any questions please let me know! We’ll update this if we get any more information!