The amendment

The Law is amended so that parents are given a right to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave during the 56-week period from the death of a child under 18 years of age (or stillbirth in the case of a child that is stillborn 24 weeks after pregnancy). Those eligible are as follows:

  • mothers;
  • fathers; and
  • adopter/surrogate parent of the child and their partners, whether or not married or in a civil partnership, provided they had or were expected to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing. This could therefore include up to 4 individuals (i.e., two sets of parents and step parents).

The leave will be a “day one” employment right and may be taken without notice and in up to 3 blocks of time. If the relevant employee changes employers, the balance of leave may be carried forward.

Also, the leave will not affect the right to the types of leave that parents may be entitled to under the existing parental leave regime. By way of reminder, a generous parental leave regime was introduced in Jersey in June 2020 which combined maternity, adoption, and paternity into one all-encompassing term – “parental leave”. Parental bereavement leave will therefore be a further right to time off work, and provide support to parents during tragic circumstances.

Payment scheme

It is further proposed that a non-statutory payment scheme will be made available to any parent taking parental bereavement leave. This scheme, to sit alongside the new legislation, will make payments to parents regardless of whether their employer decides to pay for the time they are off work. The payments will match the value of the current mean average weekly earnings, with the payment amount being adjusted on an annual basis to reflect the latest mean average weekly wage.

Jersey pulls further away from Guernsey in terms of family leave rights

The amendment serves as another reminder of the increasing contrast between family friendly rights in Jersey and Guernsey – Jersey employees have much more comprehensive rights than their Guernsey counterparts. It is already the case that, in Jersey, all parents (irrespective of their length of service) are entitled to 52 weeks parental leave in relation to childbirth, with the first six weeks to be paid by their employer. In Guernsey, expectant mothers have a statutory entitlement to 12 weeks basic maternity leave. Those that have been continuously employed for 15 months or more, at the beginning of the 11th week before the due date, are entitled to additional maternity leave totalling 26 weeks (which includes the basic maternity leave period). Guernsey also lags far behind Jersey in that there is no statutory entitlement to be paid during any period of maternity leave and this is the same position for any partner of a mother, as they are only entitled to 2 weeks unpaid leave around the time of the birth. Guernsey employees, therefore, remain at the mercy of more generous family friendly policies offered by their employer to enhance the bare bones nature of the underlying law.

Conclusion

In the context of the current recruitment crisis that is affecting the Channel Islands (with shortages in all sectors from finance, professional services, through to hospitality and retail), the competition for talent has never been greater. Many employers have historically tended to deal with issues such as bereavement under the banner of discretionary compassionate leave on an ad hoc basis, typically allowing for a few days leave, most commonly on a paid basis but not always. Offering family friendly benefits is a factor that can help employers with one of their perennial headaches: attracting and retaining quality staff. For this reason, businesses that operate across both islands may consider updating their family leave policies to incorporate this new right (even if strictly the right does not currently cover Guernsey) to demonstrate that they will support their staff when it is needed the most.

For more specific advice on family leave in Guernsey or Jersey, please contact Richard Sheldon, Niall MacDonald, or James Gallimore.

Key contacts

Richard Sheldon

Managing Group Partner*: Guernsey

T +44 (0)1481 755 904
E Email Richard

Niall MacDonald

Partner: Jersey

T +44 (0)1534 818 018
E Email Niall

James Gallimore

Associate*: Guernsey

T +44 (0)1481 755 624
E Email James

Lisa Upham

Professional Support Lawyer: Guernsey

T +44 (0)1481 755 605
E Email Lisa

Lara von Wildenrath

Senior Associate: Jersey

T +44 (0)1534 818 067
E Email Lara

Olwyn Barry

Group Partner: BVI

T +44 (0)1534 818 357 or + 1 (284) 393 5345
E Email Olwyn

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