Companies are being urged to sign up to a new pledge to support employees affected by miscarriage.
The Miscarriage Association wants businesses and organisations to sign up to its new “pregnancy loss pledge” to ensure staff get the support and time off they need.
Employers are being asked to understand and implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave, create a supportive work environment, and to have a policy or guidance in place.
There is currently no statutory entitlement to paid leave for people who lose a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy.
But the Miscarriage Association said that while there is no legal right to paid time off for those experiencing miscarriage, absence for this reason is protected by pregnancy-related leave rules, meaning it must be recorded separately to general sickness and cannot be used against them in any way.
This new campaign follows a recent report into the longterm psychological impact of miscarriage for both men and women, led by Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, which called for a complete overhaul of miscarriage care in the UK.
In March 2021, New Zealand’s Parliament unanimously passed legislation that would entitle mothers and their partners to bereavement leave following a pregnancy loss or stillbirth.
The country’s Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill gives a couple three paid days off work to grieve and recover from a pregnancy loss. The law also applies to parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.
Ruth Bender Atik, national director of The Miscarriage Association, said: “Since we launched our workplace resources a year ago, it’s been very heartening to see so many organisations, large and small, who are already committed to supporting their staff through what can be an extremely distressing experience.
“But we know there is more to be done and our aim is that every workplace acknowledges the impact of pregnancy loss and treats their staff with empathy and understanding.”
The Co-op is among companies already signed up to the pledge, and Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief financial officer, said: “Losing a baby at any stage in a pregnancy is a devastating experience.
“The decision to discuss that with your employer is an incredibly difficult and personal one.
Khoury-Haq has first hand experience of baby loss. “Having lost our eldest daughter and having suffered several miscarriages myself and with our surrogate I understand just how difficult it is to navigate your personal and professional life during such heartbreak,” she said.
“By creating a supportive environment companies can go a long way in easing the stress that people in this situation often feel.”
The pregnancy loss pledge asks employers to encourage a supportive work environment where people feel able to discuss and disclose pregnancy and/or loss without fear of being disadvantaged or discriminated against.
It asks that employers understand and implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave, ensuring staff feel able to take the time off they need.
It calls on companies to show empathy and understanding towards people and their partners experiencing pregnancy loss, and to implement a pregnancy loss policy or guidance, or ensure it is included in sickness, bereavement or other workplace policies – being mindful of the needs of partners too.
It also asks employers to encourage line managers to access in-house or external guidance on how to support someone experiencing pregnancy loss, and to support people back to work by being responsive to their needs and showing flexibility wherever possible.