There is currently no statutory entitlement to paid leave for people who lose a baby before the 24th week of pregnancy.
Beyond the 24-week mark, the loss of a baby is legally a stillbirth and mothers are entitled full maternity leave and both parents are entitled to two weeks of paid Parental Bereavement Leave.
While there is no legal right to paid time off for those experiencing miscarriage prior to 24 weeks, absence for this reason is protected by pregnancy-related leave rules which mean it must be recorded separately to general sickness and cannot be used against them in any way.
Businesses are therefore being encouraged to support employees affected by miscarriage by signing up to a new Pregnancy Loss Pledge created by the Miscarriage Association.
The charity’s pledge asks employers to understand and introduce pregnancy-related leave, create a supportive work environment and make sure line managers have training to manage challenging conversations.
Miscarriage and the workplace:
It also encouraged employers to support their people, including partners, back to work by showing flexibility where possible.
Co-op, Zip Financial Services and housing association North Star have already signed the pledge.
Shirine Khoury-Haq, Co-op chief financial officer and CEO of Life Services, said companies can go a long way in easing the stress of miscarriage by creating a supportive environment.
She 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. 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.”
The Pregnancy Loss Pledge in full:
- 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
- Understand and implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave, ensuring staff feel able to take the time off they need
- Show empathy and understanding towards people and their partners experiencing pregnancy loss
- 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
- Encourage line managers to access in-house or external guidance (such as that available on the Miscarriage Association website) on how to support someone experiencing pregnancy loss
- Support people back to work by being responsive to their needs and showing flexibility wherever possible