In The News: Bereavement Leave

Written by Alicia Collinson & Jodie Hill

As has been heavily publicised today all over the media, the government is introducing measures in April this year to allow parents who lose a child to two weeks’ statutory bereavement leave.

Here at Thrive we wanted to clarify: what exactly does that mean? And is it enough?

Who is eligible and what are they entitled to?

From April this year, Jack’s Law will be introduced. This will allow parents who lose a child under the age of 18 (or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy) to take leave in the first year after the death as either a single block of two weeks, or two separate weeks.

Some of the reports have been misleading, with it being implied that the leave is “paid leave”. In fact, this is not the case:

  • The bereavement leave is not paid if the parent has not got 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer.
  • The leave is not paid if the parent does not earn above the lower earnings limit (£118 per week for 2019 to 2020)
  • For employees who meet both the above criteria, the leave is only £148.68 per week (for 2019 to 2020), or 90% of average weekly earnings where this is lower.


Is it enough?

In the opinion of us here at Thrive: not really. Although it’s always good for rights to be increased (as currently there is no automatic right to statutory bereavement leave) and it’s a step in the right direction, there are still a few concerns which we have.

Quite contrary to reports, the right is quite strongly caveated. The minimum earning requirements are less likely to be met by parents (more commonly mothers) who work lesser hours to work around their children’s school hours. Those parents are, in turn, less likely to therefore qualify for the statutory payment.

Furthermore, the right for paid leave (even as limited pay) should be a day one right; whether a parent has lost their child on the first day of their job or after 15 years’ service, they should be equally entitled to mourn that child with the support of their employer.

Also, the statutory payment is only a slight increase on entitlement for statutory sick pay, and it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue which the campaign was trying to solve:

“More and more people told me they had experienced the same thing. Employers were saying ‘take as much time as you need’, and they were taking six months off, and it was down on their record as being off sick. They’d come back to a P45 on their desk.”

Here at Thrive, we struggle to see how two weeks’ leave would solve this issue. Grieving parents would, quite understandably, be likely to suffer mental health issues as a result of their loss and then have to take sick leave. Aside from the fact that those mental health issues may amount to a disability (and therefore any resulting dismissal could be discriminatory), the two weeks’ leave is insufficient to provide grieving employees with sufficient time to seek and gain support. For a start, waiting lists can be up to six months for therapy with the NHS.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said the measures were “a minimum, and something to build on”. Here at Thrive, we sincerely hope that that is the case, and that a more generous statutory scheme will be introduced, and extended to employees grieving all relatives, and not just children.

Practical Tips for employers

As an employer, what can you do in the light of the news?

  • If you have an existing staff handbook, you’ll need to amend it to recognise the rights of parents. However, you might want to consider whether to enhance these rights, by introducing more paid leave or
  • Once your handbook is updated, you might want to send a short email to your employees, explaining the change.
  • Always consider the mental health of employees, especially grieving parents. Bear in mind that, in certain circumstances, their resulting conditions (for example, PTSD, anxiety, depression) might amount to a disability. If an employee is disabled they are entitled to reasonable adjustments and not to be subject to a detriment as a result of that disability.
  • Be proactive! Generally, regardless of whether mental ill health is related to bereavement or not, employers should be as supportive as possible of their employees. Poor mental health in the workplace cost UK employers more than £43bn in 2018
  • Monitor your employees’ mental health. Even a long time after a bereavement, the effects can stay with those effected. Our Campaign is looking to make mental health risk assessments a requirement; that would allow an employer to maintain and monitor an employees’ wellbeing and ensure that they are getting the support they need.

If you have any further questions about this article, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

Related Articles

The Coronavirus and Flexible Working – What Your Organisation Can Do

Health and safety dismissals: An employee’s right to stay safe during a pandemic

Test and Trace: Employer’s Obligations

Life in Lockdown: How it has impacted the #ThriveTribe

Life in Lockdown: The Distressing Rise in Domestic Abuse and How Employers Can Help

Life in Lockdown: The Impact of Grief and Employees’ Rights

Managing my Mental Health as a Mother

Life in Lockdown: NHS Staff and Possible PTSD After COVID-19

Health Care Workers and PPE Concerns: What are Their Duties and How Are They Protected?

The effect of lockdown on diversity in the workplace

Observing Ramadan during Lockdown

Emergency Volunteering Leave

Dealing with redundancy during COVID-19

Unfurloughing employees

Sleep and mental health

Raising concerns amid Covid-19: Are Employees Protected?

Maintaining your teams Mental Wellbeing (whilst working from home/Furlough)

Workplace Safety: 10 Important Steps to Making Your Workplace Safer for Employees

Airline crew launch “Project Wingman”

Statutory Sick Pay and Coronavirus

Why is sleep so important?

Pregnancy, Maternity and Furlough

Flexible working – is it possible in a law firm?

The superhero firms helping out in the coronavirus crisis

What are the Signs of Stress?

Statutory Duties owed by a Director of a Company; and How Do They Work with Furlough?

A barristers analysis of holiday pay and furlough

Coronavirus and Apprenticeships

Furlough and Annual Leave: How does it work?

Vulnerable and shielded employees; what are your rights?

The Coronavirus Act 2020

Workplace Accessibility: Is your workplace accessible to people with disabilities?

Coronavirus – FAQ’s

In the News: Coronavirus Employer obligations

UK in Lockdown – What You Need to Know

The F Word – Furlough

Short Time and Layoffs

School Closures

The Impact of Coronavirus on Employment – The Home Working Revolution

How to Prepare for a Remote Workforce

Coronavirus is contagious, but panic is too

What are the different types of Whistleblowing?

Key Employment Law Changes in 2020

IR35 Changes – What do you need to know?

In the Media: Fairhall v University Hospital of North Tees & Hartlepool Foundation Trust

There’s a Storm Coming: Do You Have an Adverse Weather Policy for Employees?

May Bank Holiday Change Blog- All Change for 2020!

LGBT+ History Month

Can you sack someone who works in a supermarket and refuses to handle money?

In The News: Bereavement Leave

The Thrive Tribe’s Christmas Holiday

In The News: Discrimination and Equal Pay

Keep Informed: Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Brexit – What will the Withdrawal Bill Mean for Employment Rights?

Bring Your Dog to Work – For More Than Just a Day?

In the News: Hangover Days

Political Discourse and Voting at Work: What are Employees’ Rights?

Vegetarianism & Veganism – Are they protected as Philosophical Beliefs?

Diversity: More than just Box-Ticking and Policies

Drugs and Alcohol Policy: Support or Discipline?

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace

Yorkshire Legal Awards: Diversity and Inclusion Award

Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business: Social Mobility Award

Topic UK Magazine October 2019

Calling Time on the Booze Culture

Mental health discrimination is limiting the opportunities in the workplace for those who have served in the armed forces

How to Thrive – Top tips to reduce stress in your organisation

Asda’s Employment Contract Changes: Fair or Foolish?

Keep Informed: MacDonald’s CEO dismissed for relationship at work

How to Handle Allergies in the Workplace

Menopause in the Workplace

The 4 Day Week Report

Feeling SAD?

Keep Informed: New case criticises workplace “banter” and awards £54,000 for race and sexual orientation discrimination

Surviving or Thriving?

Keep Informed: Women and Equalities Committee proposes changes to enforcement of discrimination rights

The Good Work Plan

Working 9 to 5, 4 Days a Week…?

Is your organisation ready for Generation Z?

Thriving In The Workplace and the #OneMind Petition

Dyslexia in the Workplace

Overpayments and Deductions from wages

The UK’s increasingly diabetic workforce

TheBusinessDesk: Further expansion for law firm; Promotions at engineering specialist; and more

LGBTQIA+ in the Workplace

Eid in the Workplace

Neurodiversity in the Workplace

Leeds & Yorkshire Lawyer Magazine – 11th April 2019

Recruiting Times – 12th February 2019 Employment contracts: What to check for before accepting the job

HR News – 6th February 2019 Over half of working Brits have accepted a job offer without checking the contract first.

Yorkshire Legal News – Thrive Law continues rapid growth – 12th November 2018

BR Online: Employee wellbeing and human capital – November 2018

MMB Magazine – 5 November 2018

The Telegraph- Business 24 October 2018

H & N Magazine 3 October 2018

South Leeds Life 3 October 2018

The Yorkshire Post 10 October 2018

Article in People Management- “Employers must do more to tackle male ‘stigma’ around shared parental leave” – 30th July

The Business Desk- “Independent law firm launches in Yorkshire”– July 16th

Interview with Ascension Club Leeds- July 11th

Law Society Gazette – 3rd May 2018

Stylist Magazine – 21st May

Yorkshire Post – 2 May 2018 – Greg Wright The Case for introducing mental health first aiders at work

What Is YOUR Workplace Doing for Ramadan?

April Updates in Employment Law

Thoughts On “Gagging Orders”

Time to Talk Day 2019

The Loneliness Epidemic

Thrive’s round up of 2018!

To talk or not to talk?

Why employers should exercise caution when using NDAs

Being your true self at work boosts mental wellbeing and performance

How to spot and eliminate risks of office workplace accidents

Why The Best Investment Is In Your Mental Health

Supporting LGBT+ Mental Health in the Workplace

What your employer needs to know when your child has a mental health illness – guest blog

The Do’s And Don’t For A Happy Employee – Guest Blog

HR leading the way into GDPR compliance for businesses

Dealing with stress in the workplace

Welcome to our new website and blog!

Unfairly dismissed nurse who warned of her patient safety fears