From April 2020 Parents or Carers will be entitled to at least two weeks’ leave following the loss of a child under the age of 18 or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The term carers includes adopters, foster parents and guardians, as well as more informal groups such close relatives or family friends who have taken responsibility for the child’s care in the absence of parents.
Employees who are Parents or Carers with 26 weeks’ continuous service will receive paid leave at the statutory rate in line with Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Leave Pay. Those with less than 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to unpaid leave.
Parents will not need to provide the employer with a death certificate as evidence.
Leave can either be taken in one block or in two separate blocks of one week, within a 56 week window from the child’s death, and notice requirements will be flexible so leave can be taken without prior notice.
This is a welcome change for employees; the regulations for parental bereavement leave and pay will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue after the death of her son. This is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world.
Sadly around 7,500 child deaths, including around 3,000 stillbirths, occur in the UK every year. The government estimates that this new entitlement will help to support around 10,000 parents a year.