Firms encouraged to sign up to new pledge to support employees affected by miscarriage

A Wakefield-based charity has called on companies across the country to sign up to a new pledge to support employees affected by miscarriage.

Monday, 6th September 2021, 11:45 am
The Miscarriage Association is calling on employers to sign up to a 'pregnancy loss pledge' to support staff. Picture: PA

The Miscarriage Association wants businesses and organisations to agree to meet a new ‘pregnancy loss standard’ to ensure staff get the support and time off they need.

There is currently no statutory entitlement to paid leave for people who lose a baby before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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.

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Yet a survey carried out last year by the Wakefield-based charity 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.

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The Miscarriage Association's pregnancy loss standard asks employers to understand and implement rules around pregnancy-related leave, create a supportive environment and have a policy or guidance in place.

Ruth Bender Atik, Miscarriage Association national director, 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."

The Co-op is among companies to have signed up to the pledge, and Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief financial officer, 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.

"By creating a supportive environment companies can go a long way in easing the stress that people in this situation often feel."

Through the standard asks employers to implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave and ensure staff feel able to take the time off they need; to show empathy and understanding to people and their partners experiencing pregnancy loss and implement policy or guidance; encourage line managers to access training in how to support someone experiencing miscarriage and create a supportive environment where people feel able to discuss pregnancy and/or loss without fear of being disadvantaged or discriminated against.

For more information on The Miscarriage Association and its support services, visit https://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk.

The charity's helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm, on 01924 200799.