Parents in the United Kingdom who suffer the loss of a child or a stillbirth are now entitled to two weeks’ bereavement leave under the Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 (also known as “Jack’s Law”). The campaign for the law was spearheaded by Lucy Herd following the accidental drowning of her son Jack.
Jack’s Law took effect on April 6, 2020, and applies to all employees who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 or whose child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The law allows all employees, regardless of their length of service, to take two weeks’ leave in the wake of such a loss. Employees may either take the leave as a two-week period or in two one-week increments in the 12 months following the loss.
To be eligible for statutory bereavement pay, employees must have accrued 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employers, and have weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit of £118 per week (for 2019 to 2020). Bereavement pay will be paid at the rate of £148.68 per week (for 2019 to 2020) or 90 percent of an employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is the lower amount).
Employers may find that while they are updating their employee handbooks in light of Jack’s Law provides an opportune time to review existing compassionate leave policies to decide how they will handle situations that fall outside the law’s ambit—for example if an employee loses a child over the age of 18 or suffers an early term miscarriage.
Written by Rebecca Emery of Ogletree Deakins
© 2020 Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.