Parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 will be entitled to two weeks’ statutory paid leave from work, the Government has announced.
The new legal right, coming into force from April, is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world, said ministers.
The regulations will be known as Jack’s Law, in memory of Jack Herd, whose mother Lucy has been campaigning on the issue since her 23-month-old son Jack drowned in a pond in 2010.
She found out the law only allowed Jack’s father three days off work to grieve, one of which had to be the funeral.
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 word 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.”
Lucy Herd said: “In the immediate aftermath of a child dying, parents have to cope with their own loss, the grief of their wider family, including other children, as well as a vast amount of administrative paperwork and other arrangements.
“A sudden or accidental death may require a post-mortem or inquest, there is a funeral to arrange and there are many other organisations to contact, from schools to benefit offices.
“When I started this campaign 10 years ago after the death of my son Jack, I always hoped that a positive change would happen in his memory.
“Knowing that nearly 10 years of campaigning has helped create Jack’s Law is the most wonderful feeling, but it is bittersweet at the same time.”
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.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “Labour has supported the proposal for parental bereavement leave from its inception, and we welcome this announcement.
“As set out in our Workers’ Rights Manifesto, Labour is calling for bereavement leave for those who have lost a close family member.”
Matthew Percival of the CBI said: “The loss of any child is unimaginably difficult. Offering this flexibility to bereaved parents is something businesses absolutely welcome. Giving time for families to grieve without the worry of what’s going on at work is fundamental.”
Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “We’ve engaged with the Government to ensure Jack’s Law works for both employees and small businesses, making it a day one right as it absolutely should be.
“It would be fantastic to see this legislation improved even further with the creation of a parental bereavement allowance for the self-employed.”
Susan Clews, chief executive of the conciliation service Acas, said: “This new legal right will allow eligible working parents paid time off to help them grieve and will help employers who manage staff that are experiencing the distressing loss of a loved one.”