· Features

Hot topic: Early-stage pregnancy loss

An Imperial College London study into the psychological impact of early-stage pregnancy loss has called for more support for individuals who have experienced such trauma

Little to no protections, either for women or their partners, are afforded by current employment law. How can employers adapt to be more sensitive to the needs of expecting parents and those who’ve miscarried? Perhaps it is time for policy reform.

Clare Foster, freelance project worker at the Miscarriage Association, says:

"Early pregnancy loss affects people in different ways. For some it may be part of what causes a mental health problem – or makes one worse. Both women and their partners can be affected.

"Flexibility is important – we encourage managers to have sensitive conversations about their employee’s needs during their loss and in the following weeks and months.

"Many women need time off to recover physically and emotionally. This sick leave is ‘pregnancy protected’ and women should not be subject to stressful disciplinary procedures on their return.

"Everyone needs clear information on rights and responsibilities – ideally within a miscarriage policy. Awareness-raising can help prevent insensitive comments.

"The Miscarriage Association provides information and support. We are currently creating an online hub for employers and employees."

Allyson Zimmermann, executive director EMEA at Catalyst, says:

"People are not robots and they cannot switch off their feelings and emotions when they walk into their workplace. Loss is painful and allowing people the time and space to grieve is essential. If a company’s bereavement policies do not include compassionate leave for pregnancy loss perhaps this should be re-evaluated.

"Some organisations have created ‘mentor circles’ to allow employees to access support from a group that has been through similar experiences.

"This gives those who have suffered loss the opportunity to access a network of people who have gone through similar traumas and who can offer a safe space to share their feelings at work if needed.

"Let’s create a more compassionate and humane workplace. No-one forgets how a company treated them during a hard time."

This piece appeared in the February 2020 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

Check back tomorrow for part two of this hot topic