New law gives bereaved dads time off work

The government has announced new legislation that means bereaved dads and mums will get at least two weeks off work after a tragedy

Man at desk with head in hands


Working parents who suffer the tragedy of losing their child will be entitled to time off by law from April.

The government has announced new rules giving bereaved dads and mums up to two weeks of paid leave in the event of a child’s death.

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned on the issue. It will implement a statutory right to a minimum of two weeks’ leave for all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer. However they will only be entitled to pay for that time if they’ve been working for the same employer for six months.

Challenges for bereaved dads

Working dads can face a particular challenges following the death of a child. Tory MP Will Quince has spoken about the way bereaved dads sometimes face pressure from others or from themselves to ‘hold it together’ in such circumstances.

The government claims the new policy is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world, set to take effect from April.

Parents will be able to take the leave as either a single block of two weeks, or as two separate blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death. This means they can match their leave to the times they need it most, which could be in the early days or over the first anniversary.

Tireless efforts

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “There can be few worse experiences in life than the loss of a child and I am proud that this government is delivering ‘Jack’s Law’, making us the first country in the world to do so.

“When it takes effect, Jack’s Law will be a fitting testament to the tireless efforts of Lucy Herd, alongside many charities, to give parents greater support.”

Alison Penny, Coordinator of the National Bereavement Alliance said, “Many parents are forced to make hard choices about returning to work at a desperately difficult time following their child’s death, fearing loss of pay or job security if they take time off.

“We welcome the significant step the Government has made in introducing minimum provision for parents, and would like to see employers demonstrate a genuine commitment to grieving colleagues by treating them compassionately and with the support they need.”

New entitlement

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.

The right to parental bereavement leave and pay makes the UK one of a very few countries worldwide to offer such support, and the first to offer a full two weeks. It will come into force on 6 April 2020, assuming it passes all parliamentary hurdles. Parents employed in a job for six months or more will also be able to claim statutory pay for this period, in line with the approach for other parental entitlements, such as paternity leave and pay.

Jack’s Law is part of a parcel of measures promised by the new government in the Queen’s Speech in December. An Employment Bill which will introduce further measures designed to benefit workers and businesses including carer’s leave and neonatal pay.

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