Bereaved parents have new right to paid time off

WORKING parents who experience the death of a child will be granted two weeks’ paid bereavement leave under new rules, known as ‘Jack’s Law’, which are due to come into effect.

There is currently no automatic right to paid time off for bereavement as the law currently stands. However, this will change on 6 April 2020, when the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations take effect, giving grieving parents a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks’ paid leave.

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

These regulations mean that any working parent who experiences the devastating loss of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth during pregnancy from 24 weeks onwards, will be entitled to two weeks’ paid bereavement leave.

The two weeks’ paid leave can be taken together, or in two blocks of one week across the first year after the death, allowing grieving parents to determine the time when they need to take the leave the most. For example, the parent may wish to take one week of paid leave in the immediate aftermath of the death of their child, and then a second week of paid leave around the first anniversary of the death.

The paid leave will also apply regardless of how long the bereaved parent has worked for their employer, and will be paid at the lower of £151.20 per week, or 90 per cent of the employee’s salary. Those who have six months service or more with their employer will additionally be entitled to receive statutory pay.

The regulations will be more commonly known as ‘Jack’s Law’, following a campaign for a reformation of bereavement laws by the mother of Jack Herd, who drowned aged 23 months in 2010.

For medical practices and dental surgeries alike, the new regulations mean offering staff members the necessary support and relief from their duties to manage the emotional toll that such painful circumstances can bring. Whilst frequent contact with the employee is not advised, it can offer some support and reassurance to let the bereaved parent know that their colleagues are thinking about them. Medical practices and dental surgeries may also wish to consider how an employee’s duties would be managed during their absence.

For MDDUS members who have any questions about what the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations could mean for your medical practice or dental surgery, please call MDDUS’ in-house HR and employment advisory helpline on 0333 043 4444 (8am-6pm, Monday-Friday) or email advice@mddus.com.

Further information about the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations can be found here

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