Hot topic part two: pregnancy loss

In April 2021, New Zealand joined a small number of countries offering paid leave for those who experience pregnancy loss. In the same month, The Lancet published data on the mental health impacts of miscarriages showing private grief and misconception can lead to women and their partners feeling at fault.

Broadcaster Channel 4 and online bank Monzo have since become the first UK-based businesses to provide employees with a pregnancy loss policy. Is this the start of widespread improvement to bereavement policies?

Kate Rand, chief people officer, Threads Styling

"I hope the UK is set to see improvements to bereavement policy. However, I think it will be a repositioning, not a revolution. Policies can often feel quite opaque for employees. Most parents are unaware, for instance, of the support available for emergencies because parental leave policies aren’t written in a way that connects with their needs.

"Most companies will have compassionate leave for pregnancy loss written into their new parent policies, but it can often be overlooked, and I believe there is a great deal of merit in having a standalone policy that is signposted for visibility. Grieving parents are unlikely to want to delve into a maternity policy.

"This is part of a larger trend of HR becoming more focused on the employee they are supporting. By mapping the user experience of the employee when crafting policies and guidelines and focusing on ‘people first’ over business protection, employers will continue to create much more user-friendly and supportive guidance.

"We have seen this trend with mental health and wellbeing policies, with examples of businesses reframing their sick day policies as wellness days."

More on fertility in the workplace: 

Kirstie Axtens, head of employer services, Working Families

"Having and talking to your teams about a policy to support colleagues who have suffered miscarriage, baby loss or are facing reproductive health issues, sends a very clear signal that you value the wellbeing of your staff and want to help dismantle the silence that can surrounds these life events.

"We’ve seen some of our employer members making real strides in this area recently, putting in place policies to support their employees. They offer practical support such as paid time off, buddying, peer support and access to external specialist services.

"In addition, employers are focusing attention on upskilling line managers: equipping them with the practical resources and understanding of how to have empathetic conversations, which can make a huge difference to people’s mental wellbeing and recovery."


Click here for part one: pregnancy loss and paid leave.

This piece appears in the May/June 2021 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk