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2nd August, 2022

What support can employers give to employees during pregnancy loss?

woman crying

There is no current entitlement for employees to statutory maternity, paternity or parental bereavement leave for employees if a miscarriage happens in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

If a child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, the:

  • birth mother can get up to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave or pay;
  • birth father can get up to 2 weeks of paternity leave or pay;
  • partner of the birth mother or adopter can get up to 2 weeks of paternity leave or pay.

The birth mother and birth father will both be entitled to 2 weeks of parental bereavement leave after they finish their maternity or paternity leave.

However, employers should be sensitive to employees who have time off during this period suffering a loss and what to call the period of leave, as “maternity” or “paternity” leave may not be a favourable term for those who have suffered a loss.

Whilst there are no legal entitlements for those who suffer pregnancy loss prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy, employers should offer support to all employees during pregnancy loss, regardless of when the loss took place.

Pregnancy Loss Policies and Further Support

Last year we saw Channel 4 created a Pregnancy Loss Policy, which they implemented in April 2021, and which covers loss of the pregnancy via abortion. Whilst some employers have put in place such policies, a specific standalone Pregnancy Loss Policy is not required as many aspects can be included in compassionate leave policy.  However, it is undoubtedly a very sensitive and difficult time for employees, and it is therefore important that managers are trained to provide support, information, understanding and empathy to an employee suffering pregnancy loss.

Employers should therefore consider having information available to provide to employees and offering support in the event of pregnancy loss, even if they do not implement a stand-alone policy.

Employers could also review the aims of The Miscarriage Association’s Pregnancy Loss Pledge to see what may be worth including in any Pregnancy Loss Policy or Guidance to properly support employees. By taking the pledge, companies agree to:

  • Encourage a supportive work environment;
  • Understand and implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave;
  • Show empathy and understanding towards people and their partners;
  • Implement a pregnancy loss policy or guidance, being mindful of the needs of partners too; and
  • Supporting people by being responsive to their needs and showing flexibility wherever possible.

Employers that have taken the pledge include Save The Children UK, TalkTalk, TSB, Post Office Ltd, Co-Op, Chester Zoo and ASOS to name a few.

Examples of other support that employers can consider offering include:

  • Period of any paid leave available;
  • The option of flexible working, even if on a temporary basis;
  • Groups to speak to within the organisation, this may include a designated champion, HR or trained mental health first aiders;
  • Details of any privately-paid medical support available;
  • Counselling provided by the employer’s Employee Assistance Programme;
  • Encouragement for line managers to learn about pregnancy loss and how to handle it; and
  • Details to access external support resources such as:
    • Tommy’s;
    • Petals;
    • Arc; and
    • AbortionTak

If you require legal support and advice relating to pregnancy loss, please contact our team by completing the enquiry form below.

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