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Employers should take New Zealand’s lead by supporting employees after pregnancy loss

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Supporting employees through life’s most momentous occasions – both the joyous and the sombre – signals to an organisation’s employees that their wellbeing and their ability to fully experience significant life events are top priorities. But while employers have long offered policies like paid parental and bereavement leave, it’s a different story when it comes to pregnancy loss – even though an estimated one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage.

But New Zealand’s recent decision to offer paid leave for parents who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth – they are the latest among a small group of countries to do so – has brought this difficult but important topic into the conversation in a meaningful way, and may inspire similar policy changes in places including the UK.

New Zealand’s move affirms something very important: supporting those who experience pregnancy loss doesn’t only fall on families and their social circles. It also falls on their employers, who have a fundamental obligation to look after their employees’ wellbeing – particularly in the wake of such a trying event.

That’s why YuLife recently introduced a policy that supports paid leave of up to five working days for parents who have miscarried. We hope that employers of all stripes join us. After a year that has driven home the importance of safeguarding employees’ mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, here’s why businesses must take active steps to support employees who suffer miscarriages, and how they can begin to do so.

Why this matters for businesses

While other countries may eventually follow New Zealand, the Philippines and India in providing bereavement leave for parents who suffer pregnancy loss, organisations shouldn’t wait for government mandates but should take the lead themselves. Private workplaces have the power to drive meaningful change – and by doing so, they’ll demonstrate that they’re truly committed to supporting their employees in the face of some of life’s most challenging circumstances.

A recent survey showed 87% of British office workers reporting they would be more likely to stay with an employer who looks after their wellbeing. After more than one year of living amid the coronavirus pandemic – a crisis that has laid bare the need for more attention not only to our physical health, but also to our mental wellbeing and to how we support our workforces through trying times – now is an especially fitting time for employers to implement policies that reflect our growing awareness that supporting employees’ wellbeing is about much more than offering basic health benefits.

Miscarriage awareness as part of a holistic parenting policy

Offering assurance for paid leave and comprehensive miscarriage support can be as simple as an added clause to pre-existing healthcare offerings. For instance: We acknowledge that losses throughout pregnancy are devastating experiences that must be recognised and supported in meaningful, significant ways, and we provide paid leave of up to five working days for employees after miscarriage.”

Such a policy should cover all employees, regardless of gender, as it is important for male employees to have the peace of mind that they’ll be able to be there for their partners and to have the time and space they need to grieve this loss.

Each family that experiences pregnancy loss will grieve in their own way, and not all employees are necessarily going to be comfortable sharing that they or their partner have experienced a miscarriage. But regardless of what each person chooses, the last thing they should have to worry about is that their workplace won’t be understanding or supportive. A clear, affirmative policy providing paid leave for pregnancy loss is the first step toward eliminating that concern.

Cali Gold is head of people at YuLife