[UK] 'Jack’s Law' Will Give A Legal Right To Paid Parental Bereavement Leave

Andrea Leadsom - the Business Secretary - announced last week that parents who lose a child will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory leave, as she laid new regulations in Parliament, a press release from Gov.uk detailed what 'Jack’s Law' will do.

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations will be known as 'Jack’s Law' in memory of Jack Herd after Jack’s mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue. Jack’s Law implements 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. This leave is offered regardless of how long they have worked for their employer.

Jack’s Law is set to take effect from April. It is the most generous provision of parental bereavement pay and leave in the world.

Parents will be able to choose to take the leave as a single block of two weeks or as two separate blocks of one week each taken at different times in the first year following their child’s death. Meaning parents have the control to determine the times most need leave, whether in the early days of their loss or over the first anniversary.

Ms Leadsom said, 'There can be few worse experiences in life than the loss of a child and I am proud that this government is delivering ‘Jack’s Law’, making us the first country in the world to do so.

When it takes effect, Jack’s Law will be a fitting testament to the tireless efforts of Lucy Herd, alongside many charities, to give parents greater support.'

Lucy Herd said, 'In the immediate aftermath of a child dying, parents have to cope with their own loss, the grief of their wider family, including other children, as well as a vast amount of administrative paperwork and other arrangements. A sudden or accidental death may require a post-mortem or inquest; there is a funeral to arrange; and there are many other organisations to contact, from schools to benefit offices.

When I started this campaign 10 years ago after the death of my son Jack, I always hoped that a positive change would happen in his memory. Knowing that nearly 10 years of campaigning has helped create ‘Jack’s Law’ is the most wonderful feeling, but it is bittersweet at the same time. I am so grateful to all those involved who have helped make this possible. I was told many times that I would not succeed but Jack’s Law will now ensure that bereaved parents are better protected in the future.'

The government estimates that annually this new entitlement will help to support around 10,000 parents. Around 7,500 child deaths, including around 3,000 stillbirths, happen in the UK each year. 

The new legislation comes ahead of the government’s new Employment Bill which was announced during the Queen’s Speech in December. The Employment Bill will introduce a number of further measures for the benefit of workers and businesses including neonatal pay and carer’s leave.

The right to parental bereavement leave and pay makes the UK one of few countries worldwide to offer such support. It is the first to offer a full two weeks. Subject to Parliamentary approval, Jack’s Law will come into force on April 5, 2020. Parents employed in a job for 6 months or more will also be able to claim statutory pay for this period, matching other parental entitlements, such as paternity leave and pay.