The Government are committed to supporting working families to balance work with their caring responsibilities. We have laid regulations in Parliament which, subject to parliamentary approval, will implement our commitment to give employed parents a statutory minimum right to time off work in the devastating circumstances where their child dies or they suffer a stillbirth.
Parental bereavement leave and pay are the first of a raft of new employment reforms which will make the UK the best place in the world to work and to start and grow a business. As announced in the Queen’s Speech, the Employment Bill will introduce further measures to benefit employees and their employers, including carer’s leave and neonatal leave and pay.
The Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020; the Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020; and the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 (Commencement) Regulations 2020 (collectively referred to as “the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations”) were laid in Parliament on 23 January 2020. Taken together, they implement a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks’ leave for all employed parents whose child under the age of 18 dies or who suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Employment law is a devolved matter in the case of Northern Ireland so the new entitlement to parental bereavement leave and pay will only apply to parents in Great Britain (GB). There are around 7,500 child deaths a year in GB, including around 3,000 stillbirths. The Government estimate that this new entitlement will help to support over 10,000 GB parents a year.
The entitlement to parental bereavement leave will be a “day one” right which means that employed parents will be entitled to time off work to grieve irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer. Parents who have worked for their employer for six months or more at the time of their child’s death will also be able to claim statutory parental bereavement pay.
Employed parents will be able to take their leave and pay as either a single block of two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week each.
The right to parental bereavement leave and pay makes GB one of a very small number of countries worldwide to recognise the impact that the death of a child has on parents and to offer such support to parents. We are the first to offer a full two weeks of leave and pay and this is the most generous offer on parental bereavement leave and pay in the world.
Both the leave and pay can be taken at any time in the first 56 weeks after the child’s death. The ability to take time off work over a long period recognises that grief is a very personal matter—whilst some parents may want to take time off work immediately, others may prefer to take time off work on the first anniversary of their child’s death or to enable them to attend the funeral or inquest.
The new entitlement will be known as Jack’s law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy has campaigned tirelessly on this important issue.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the new entitlement will apply to parents who lose a child on or after 6 April 2020.