Research suggests that 1 in 10 employees are likely to be affected by the death of a loved one during their employment. In response to this, "Jack’s Law" has been introduced through the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act. This will come into force in April 2020 and now gives employed parents, who have lost a child, the right to take paid statutory leave to allow them time to grieve.
All employees have a ‘day one’ right to this bereavement leave. Parents and primary carers will be entitled to paid bereavement leave if they have been employed for a continuous period of 26 weeks. Female employees who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy will still be entitled to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave and/or pay, as will a mother who loses a child after it is born.
Employers should now put plans in place to introduce and manage the Parental Bereavement Leave policy. You will need to determine if you will give a top-up payment and the approach you will take to communicating this to your staff.
Different religions have their own bereavement traditions and funeral rites. If you were to refuse an employee to observe their beliefs and customs, it could amount to religious discrimination. Employees who suffer a loss may experience mental health issues such as depression and/or anxiety. This could constitute a disability under the Equality Act. It is advisable to look into further training on the Equality Act to prevent potential issues from religious discrimination or mental health arising.
The Bright Contracts Handbook will be updated shortly to include a new Parental Bereavement Leave Policy.