Employers are being urged to offer more support to employees who have suffered the heartache of a miscarriage.

A campaign has been launched after a survey found that half of those contacted felt they had to return to work before they were ready, and were unsure of any time-off entitlement.

Time off following miscarriage or stillbirth

At the moment there is no statutory entitlement to paid leave for those who lose a child before their 24th week of pregnancy, according to the Miscarriage Association. Beyond 24 weeks the loss is legally classed as a stillbirth and mothers are entitled to full maternity leave.

Both parents are entitled to two weeks of Parental Bereavement Leave.

The Miscarriage Association offers support and information to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.

It has now launched a campaign urging employers to commit to supporting employees through the distress of miscarriage.

Pregnancy Loss Pledge

As part of their campaign, firms are being encouraged to sign up to the Pregnancy Loss Pledge to support their staff who have suffered.

The Pregnancy Loss Pledge encourages employers to:

  • Provide a supportive work environment where people feel able to discuss and disclose pregnancy and/or loss without fear of being disadvantaged or discriminated against
  • Implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave, ensuring staff feel able to take the time off they need
  • Show empathy and understanding
  • Implement a pregnancy loss policy or guidance, or ensure it is included in sickness, bereavement or other workplace policies
  • Encourage line managers to access in-house or external guidance on how to support someone experiencing pregnancy loss
  • Support people back to work by being responsive to their needs and showing flexibility wherever possible

While there is no legal right to paid time off for those experiencing miscarriage, 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.

A survey carried out by the Miscarriage Association last year showed almost half of respondents felt they had to return to work before they were ready, with many not knowing or not being told about their right to pregnancy-related leave.

The group’s national director Ruth Bender Atik said: “Since we launched our workplace resources a year ago, it’s been very heartening to see so many organisations, large and small, who are already committed to supporting their staff through what can be an extremely distressing experience. But we know there is more to be done and our aim is that every workplace acknowledges the impact of pregnancy loss and treats their staff with empathy and understanding.”

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