Bereavement leave

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Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


Of all the employment law changes set to take effect in April, ‘Jack’s Law’ could be one of the most significant. 

The Government announced plans to introduce a right for a parent who has lost a child to take two weeks’ statutory leave from work. This follows the campaign by Lucy Herd whose 23-month-old son, Jack, died in 2010. She fought for a change in the law that, as it currently stands, doesn’t give workers an automatic right to time off in situations like hers. Currently, some bereaved parents will exercise their right to take time off for a dependant, but the amount of time they are entitled to take isn’t specified. Others choose to take unpaid leave, sick leave, or they decide to use up some of their holiday leave.

Jack’s Law should give parents a firm basis on which to step back from work when their lives have been shattered by the death of a child. And it should help employers handle things with greater confidence, too. Employer clients often tell us that they are not quite sure how to deal with employee absence when that absence relates to a bereavement. It’s hoped that this firm right to two weeks’ bereavement leave should help all concerned – above all, those parents who have been struck by tragedy.

The right will not apply to all, however. A parent whose child was under the age of 18 are entitled to the leave. A parent whose child was stillborn from 24 weeks will also be entitled to bereavement leave. The leave may be taken in one single two-week block, or as two separate blocks during the first year after the child’s death.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay will be payable to those who have been employed for at least 26 weeks and whose weekly average earnings are greater than the lower earning limit of £118 per week (currently). Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay will be £148.68 per week, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, if that’s lower.

A hugely positive move, Jack’s Law should be welcomed by employers and employees alike. Of course, there is nothing to stop an employer agreeing to a more favourable arrangement for any bereaved employee, and we would encourage businesses to see Jack’s Law as setting a minimum requirement. It’s so important to keep a close eye on employees who are going through difficult times, and to do what you reasonably can to support them.

For advice on any workplace issue, contact Julian Cole on 01264 353411 or email We will be happy to help.

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