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Paid pregnancy loss leave offered to just a quarter of employees

Only a quarter (25%) of employees who experienced pregnancy or baby loss in the past five years received paid compassionate leave from their employer, according to research from the CIPD.

Just 37% of employers had policies in place to support pregnancy and baby loss, despite 46% of employees thinking such policy would be beneficial.

Of those who experienced pregnancy or baby loss, 70% said they felt unsupported by their line manager.

Paid compassionate or other special leave (46%), understanding from their manager (40%), and paid time off to attend appointments (34%) were the ways most people would want to be supported at such a time.

Pregnancy loss policies in the UK:

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Rosie Leverton, head of corporate partnerships at pregnancy charity Tommy’s, said any policies would need proper support from employers to make them effective.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We believe that naming pregnancy loss explicitly as a separate policy, rather than incorporating it into a wider compassionate leave policy, helps remove the burden from the employee to navigate or negotiate leave at one of the most traumatising times of their life.

“Our own research and the CIPD’s findings show that the introduction of a policy needs to be followed through with a commitment to implement it properly.

"Policies must be accompanied by training and a wider shift in culture to help develop supportive workplace communities where people feel able to share what’s happening or has happened, ask managers for help when needed, and ensure they get the sort of help that is appropriate and works for them."

When employees did receive support from their employer, 60% noted a positive impact on their mental wellbeing, while 55% said it helped with their job performance.

This had an impact on employee turnover as 57% of those who received support said they intended to stay with their employer for the foreseeable future.

Jill Miller, senior diversity and inclusion adviser for the CIPD, said any support systems should include the partners of those dealing with pregnancy and baby loss.

She said: “Pregnancy and baby loss don’t just impact women in the workplace. Employers should ensure their workplace support includes partners, who are often providing support as well as grieving themselves. It’s essential that the organisation’s approach is underpinned by the principles of empathy and inclusivity.”

Virgin Media O2 announced new parental leave policies last week, which included up to 10 days of paid leave for pregnancy loss as well as up to 12 weeks neonatal leave.

The Miscarriage Association has also launched a Pregnancy Loss Pledge to encourage employers to introduce leave entitlement for pregnancy loss.

Kate Holmes, head of support and information at The Lullaby Trust told HR magazine: "We know how devastating the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or a child is for parents.

"It's important that parents are given time to grieve after the death of their baby and are not pressurised to return to work before they are ready. We welcome any actions that employers take to better support their employees after pregnancy or baby loss."