Jack's Law will come into effect in April to give bereaved moms and dads a chance to breathe.
When Lucy Herd’s 23-month-old son, Jack, drowned in 2010, the grieving mom wanted to make sure that some good came from his death. Now, 10 years later, the British government has passed Jack’s Law that provides two weeks paid leave for parents who’ve lost a child under the age of 18.
The law will come into effect in April, making the UK the only country to adopt such measures. Parents will be able to take two weeks paid leave at one time, or take two separate weeks off in the first year after the death.
Having spoken to various relatives, Herd discovered that most employees would grant a maximum of three days off work with pay. Sometimes it was just a mere 24 hours. If parents wanted to have any additional time off work they had to take the days as vacation or sick leave. If this leave extended into months it could then lead to their dismissal.
These two weeks will not only give the chance for parents to begin their grieving process, it will also provide them the opportunity to seek any psychological help they may need. And as Clea Harmer, the chief executive of Sands, a charity for stillbirth and neonatal death, explained to the BBC, this early help can be beneficial in the long run: “A lot of parents, after the death of a baby or a child, suffer the sort of grief or reaction to grief that needs psychological intervention. Time off and support early on can make a big difference.”
It’s a positive move, but Herd wants it to go even further, to include the loss of other loved ones. As she shared in the BBC’s report by Robert Plummer: “When I started this it was about everyone’s bereavement. Grief is grief.”
When The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill — as it is officially called — comes into force, it will hopefully inspire other countries to follow suit.