Hot topic: pregnancy loss and paid leave

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?

Kelly Harris, people and legal director, Sanctus

"Like many of the very sensitive situations we find ourselves dealing with in HR, supporting employees through pregnancy loss is not a matter of following set policy and process. UK businesses must start to develop a better understanding of pregnancy loss, consulting helpful resources from Tommy’s and the Miscarriage Association is useful, as is speaking to those with lived experience.

"HR must review policies to ensure that paid leave, which does not count towards sick leave, is offered in the event of pregnancy loss. Additional paid time off may be needed for medical appointments. Your organisation may already offer support in the event of pregnancy loss through employee insurance or an employee assistance programme. However, HR teams might also extend additional support to employees by offering one-to-one therapy or coaching.

"Once you’ve got a policy framework in place, HR can be trained on it to ensure they feel enabled and confident to offer support."

Cali Gold, head of people, YuLife

New Zealand’s decision is a welcome development that has placed the issue firmly in the mainstream consciousness. This issue is more widespread than workplaces have historically acknowledged with an estimated one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage.

"According to a UK study, one in six women who lose a baby in early pregnancy also experience long-term symptoms of post-traumatic stress. As HR leaders it is our duty to safeguard employee wellbeing especially during such a traumatic time.

"Supporting those who experience pregnancy loss shouldn’t only fall on loved ones, and that is why we at YuLife we have introduced a policy that supports paid leave of up to five working days for parents who have miscarried.

"It is crucial that workplaces break the taboo around this topic and help ensure that their employees get the support they need. We hope more businesses will follow and implement their own policies that place their employees’ wellbeing front and centre."


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