Bereavement: beyond the legislation

27 January 2020

It has recently been reported that parents will become entitled to two weeks of paid bereavement leave if they lose a child. This new law will be effective from April 2020. It will be called ‘Jack’s Law’ in memory of Jack Herd whose mother has been campaigning for reform since her 23-month-old son drowned in 2010. Lucy Herd, Jack’s mother, has commented that she is proud to have achieved this in Jack’s memory and hopes this will help future families.

Whilst this new law on bereavement is a welcome step in the right direction, many employers will want to consider their approach more holistically. The death of a child is one of the most tragic life experiences and therefore an employee is likely to need significant support in order to return to work successfully after such a life changing event. 

In our experience, many employers are very sympathetic towards employees losing loved ones - offering them the time and financial support they need to return to work successfully. We encounter many firms that are already going beyond the statutory minimum offering. Two approaches organisations can take is firstly provide time off and secondly support the individual at work itself through, for example, an employee assistance programme which provides access to counselling.

It is becoming increasingly common for organisations to adopt well-being frameworks and approaches which provide employees with channels of support. This support can include provisions for those suffering from poor mental health at different points in their life to help prevent feelings of isolation. Companies without a defined well-being approach should make this a priority of any people strategy. 

Earlier this year the Mayor of London and Peter Cheese, Head of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, launched 'London’s Good Work Standard' which provides a framework of good work guiding principles. One of those is dedicated to workplace well-being and outlines that employers need to go beyond the legislation and create a channel for workforce dialogue as well as fostering a positive culture around work-life balance; offering flexible working for all and encouraging senior managers to model that behaviour. 

People strategy is no longer the playing ground of just big companies and corporates, smaller organisations are also now concerned in understanding and supporting their workforces more fully in order to attract and retain talented employees. If your business is small, growing, and concerned about the well-being of its employees a conversation around your people strategy should be on your agenda as well.

If you would like to discuss how well-being becomes or remains a priority for your business, please contact Kerri Constable for a discussion on how this could be incorporated into your business’ people strategy.