The UK is set to introduce Jack’s Law with effect from 6th April 2020 subject to Parliamentary approval, which will be a new legal right entitling grieving parents of a child under the age of 18 years old, or suffering a still birth from 24 weeks of pregnancy and neonatal death, to paid bereavement leave irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.
Currently this is not an automatic right, but has been inspired by the tragic demise of Jack Herd who drowned in a pond in 2010 aged 23 months and his father being told he was only allowed three days off work to grieve, which also included his son’s funeral.
Parents will be able to take the leave either as a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of one week each, taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death. This allows time off when needed the most eg the first anniversary. The UK is the first country in the world to introduce such support to parents in addition to their existing parental leave entitlement.
In the UK there are an estimated 7,500 child deaths which includes approximately 3000 still births each year. This new entitlement could help support approximately 10,000 parents each year. Parents employed for 6 months or more will also be able to claim statutory pay in line with other parental entitlements such as paternity leave and pay. Parents with 26 weeks continuous service and a weekly average earnings over the lower earning limit of £118 per week for 2019-2020 will be entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay (SPBP) paid at the statutory rate of £148.68p per week for 2019-2020 or 90% of average weekly earnings where this is lower. This will be administered by employers similar to the existing family related statutory payments.
In the future this legislation could lead to creating a parental bereavement allowance for the self employed. Having no legal right to time off work after losing a child was a huge gap in the law affecting many families. Jack’s parents initiated the Jack’s Rainbow Campaign in order to help other parents suffering the pain of losing a child and not being allowed time to grieve due to worrying about work responsibilities.