One of the most devastating things a parent can ever imagine going through is the loss of their child.


The loss of a child goes against the natural order in which we expect life to flow in and sadly around 6,000 young people die in the UK each year. Over two-thirds of these are aged under five, and the majority are under the age of one.


Whilst parents go through their most harrowing times, they are also left to deal with the stress and financial pressures of there being no legal obligation for their employers to provide them with paid time off work.


Grieving Parents – Employee Rights


Employees currently have the statutory right to take unpaid dependent leave because of (among other things) the death of a dependent.  The right, which only applies to employees, gives parents the ability to take reasonable time off where it is necessary to deal with such situations. What is considered ‘reasonable’ and/or ‘necessary’ is obviously open to interpretation and will vary from employer to employer. There is no clear guidance on how employers should view time off for grieving parents and currently, most would only receive unpaid leave. Any paid time-off would be at the discretion and goodwill of their employer.


New Laws for Grieving Parents


With effect from 6th April 2020 the Government has confirmed that paid parental bereavement leave will be introduced. There are some exemptions and rules that HR Managers and employers need to get to grips with, in order to be prepared for any employees who sadly go through the loss of a child.


The legislation will be known as ‘Jack’s Law’ in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue after losing her one-year old son who accidentally drowned in a pond.


Small employers will be able to recover the costs of statutory bereavement pay whilst larger firms can apply to recoup most of the costs incurred.


Employers should be mindful of how they approach sensitive situations such as child loss with their staff and should consider having a robust policy put in place to ensure that each situation in managed in the right way. They should be understanding, show empathy and communicate with their staff member or their family in an appropriate way.


Line managers should also ensure that staff are fully supported on their return to work and make any reasonable provisions.


Scroll down for entitlement and further detail…

What are Parents Entitled to?

  • Two weeks’ statutory paid leave (currently the statutory rate of £148.68 per week or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower).
  • The leave must be taken within 52 weeks of the child’s death
  • The leave can be taken as 2 consecutive weeks or as 2 separate 1 week breaks off work (this allows parents to take time of immediately and at a difficult time at a later date, such as for a funeral or anniversary)
  • Due to the unexpected nature of this leave it can be requested at short notice

Who is Entitled to Parental Bereavement Leave?

  • Employed parents who have lost a child under the age of 18
  • Those with ‘parental responsibility’ who have lost a child under the age of 18. This could include legal guardians, adoptive parents, foster parents or those who have applied for or have ‘assumed’ parental responsibility for a child
  • Parents or primary carers who have been employed for 26 weeks or more. Parents who have shorter length of service would be entitled to unpaid leave.
  • Parents who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks. (In these circumstances the mother would still be entitled to their usual 52 weeks of maternity leave and maternity pay if eligible)
  • Parents who lose a baby during childbirth or soon after birth (In these circumstances the mother would still be entitled to their usual 52 weeks of maternity leave and pay)

Who is Entitled to Parental Bereavement Pay?

  • Parents that have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment ending on the Saturday before the child died; and
  • that earn at least the lower earnings limit for class 1 national insurance contributions


Next Steps for HR


If you have any concerns over paid parental bereavement leave or would like to conduct a review of your staff policies in relation to parental bereavement leave or other family friendly policies then please speak to our Employment Law Team who will be happy to assist you in getting up to speed.


Call our offices in Basingstoke on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or speak to our online Chat Assistant who is available 24/7 via our website.


Other articles you may be interested in reading:

Coronavirus: What Employers Should be Doing to Protect Their Staff

Employment Law Changes for April 2020

Dealing with Mental Health Issues in the Workplace


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.