In recent weeks there has been media coverage of the introduction of new legislation known as “Jack’s Law”, which introduces a statutory right to parental bereavement leave for up to two weeks. The legislation, currently in draft form, is being introduced from 6th April 2020, and is named in memory of Jack Herd, who died aged 23 months, and follows campaigning by his mother Lucy.
The new regulations contain various technicalities, and so here are some key facts about Jack’s Law for employers to be aware of:
- Parents and individuals with responsibility for a deceased child under the age of 18, or parents who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks, are eligible;
- Parental bereavement leave operates in one- or two-week blocks;
- Bereaved parents may take the leave within 56 weeks of the death of their child, and they do not have to give notice within the first 56 days (they should give one week’s notice thereafter);
- Parental bereavement leave is a “day one” employment right, but statutory parental bereavement leave pay (SPBP), which is currently the lower of £151.20 or 90% of weekly earnings, is subject to conditions;
- Employees have to provide certain information, such as the date of the child’s death, however, a copy of the death certificate is not required.
However, whilst Jack’s Law does make provision for bereaved parents, if you are an employer with an employee who very sadly suffers the loss of a child, there is more to consider than whether or not you have followed the rules for statutory bereavement leave. As well as expressing your condolences, it is also be helpful to let your employee know that you are prepared to talk, so that they know that you support them. It may feel hard to know what to say or not say, and so the website of The Compassionate Friends provides a useful guide- Click here.
It may also be helpful to establish whether or not the bereaved person would like you to tell their colleagues what has happened, and if they are ok for their colleagues to contact them yet. If you have an employee assistance programme (EAP), you should ensure your employee has the details and knows how to contact them, particularly from home where they may not have access to the information that they normally would whilst at work.
When an employee returns to work after a period of bereavement leave, it may be useful to arrange for them to be able to access a quiet room somewhere in the workplace, so that if they need to take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the open plan office or shop floor, then they can do so. It may also be appropriate to agree a code word or expression between the employee and their line manager, such as “’I’ll be back in five”, so that if they need to step away they can do so without launching into a detailed explanation of why they are upset. In addition to these things, also consider if additional flexibility is needed, either for practical matters that could not be taken care of within the leave period, or because the employee is looking after other family members, such as siblings of the deceased child, who are also grieving.
If you are in need of support about Jack’s Law and how to support bereaved parents, please get in touch with ViewHR.