CIPD Voice: Issue 29
When Claire and I first started collaborating, I did not envisage that coming together with the CIPD, would have such an impact on ensuring my campaign about Jack's Law and the need for employers to support their employees better when a Bereavement in the workplace happened, would have such a momentous opportunity to reach so many businesses.
To be told you can only take 3 days off to grieve a loved one is an inhumane anomaly which needs to be addressed. Funerals can take 10 days or more to organise, so to expect an employee to return to work even before a funeral has happened is not only wrong but, in some cases, impossible.
Everyone grieves differently there is no right way or wrong way. Grief is unique to everyone.
You may discover that productivity goes down, mood’s change, grieving can cause exhaustion which can make timekeeping a problem, but all these things are because often employees are expected to carry on as normal after a death.
When I started this campaign nearly 11 years ago, I had always hoped legislation would be created for everyone to be able to take time off should they need to, in the event of a family death. Time is precious and we should not have to worry about taking time off from work because our whole world has altered due to grief. Therefore, we are working towards ensuring Jacks Law is amended, to better protect future families from being told they can’t take ‘time’.
Ensuring you have the correct things in place within your workplace will help tremendously to support an employee when a bereavement may happen. There are a few things you can do such as maybe have a Grief First Aider within the workplace, have an updated bereavement policy, offer external grief support, and sometimes all you need to do is be a friendly listening ear.
Claire McCartney: Senior Policy Adviser, Resourcing and Inclusion
Claire is the Resourcing and Inclusion Policy Adviser at the CIPD. For the last two years she has been running her own research and consultancy organisation.
Claire specialises in the areas of diversity & inclusion, flexible working, resourcing and talent management. She has also conducted research into meaning and trust at work, age diversity, workplace carers and enterprise and has worked on a number of international projects. She is the author of several reports and articles and regularly presents at seminars and conferences.
Prior to her roles at the CIPD, Claire was Principal Researcher at Roffey Park where she conducted research projects into a variety of topics including Roffey Park’s annual Management Agenda survey, work-life balance, flexible working, employee volunteering, talent management, and diversity. Claire has also worked with a range of clients on tailored research needs.
Lucy Herd, Jack's Law campaigner
Lucy Herd is a bereavement rights campaigner and grief recovery specialist, whose son Jack was only 23 months old when he tragically drowned in her garden pond in August 2010.
Living through every parent’s worst nightmare gave Lucy the strength to take on the system, so no parent would have to suffer as she had. Lucy was to find out the hard way that an employee is only entitled to three days’ statutory leave from the workplace, even after the death of a child.
This terrible experience was the catalyst for Lucy starting the Change Bereavement Leave campaign. Lucy worked tirelessly, taking on the might of Westminster and business organisations, to fight for people who had lost a child to be given a decent amount of bereavement leave from their workplace, all in the name of Jack.
Seven years after starting her campaign, Royal Assent was given for The Parental Leave and Pay Bill on 13 September 2018. Jack’s Law, as it became known, came into force in April 2020, which now gives employed parents who lose a child under 18 two weeks’ leave under the Act. Lucy continues to campaign for Jack’s Law to include all family members.
Lucy is an ambassador for the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and last year trained to become a grief recovery specialist. This qualified her to deliver an evidence-based programme to help people with losses of any kind. It also helped Lucy with her own grief. She’s also undergone Helping Children with Loss training for anyone who works or lives with children.
Lucy has also set up Grief and a Cuppa, a safe online space for anyone grieving, and Grief First Aiders, a short course for workplaces.