Work Life Balance. Dealing with Loss

Published: 02/11/2021

How to better cope with pregnancy loss whilst working. How employers can better understand and support employees dealing with loss

Life’s complicated - and mapping your parenting journey is one of life’s biggest challenges. When you throw the post pandemic work environment into the mix, it can feel overwhelming.

We get it - so we’ve reviewed best practices and policies at progressive employers which support your life as a working parent.

For employees, you can quickly see where the best place to develop your career is. For employers, you can see what improvements you can make to get your recruitment and retention to best in class.

What are the challenges for working parents who’ve experienced pregnancy loss?

It is estimated that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth, whilst 1 in 4 women are likely to experience miscarriage. That’s around 250,000 a year. The chances of you knowing someone, or being someone that has experienced pregnancy loss is fairly high - yet there is insufficient support or sometimes none at all for employees.

And the repercussions can be wide and long lasting. It’s been noted by campaigners that the repercussions of pregnancy loss, can include mental and physical illness. There is stigma or shame to experiencing a miscarriage which means that many often end up suffering in silence. In the UK, having a stillborn baby pre-24 weeks is still counted as a miscarriage. And there is no statutory leave or pay, so people take unpaid or sick leave to deal with the aftermath. 

If your baby was delivered after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy you are entitled to maternity leave and any maternity pay that you qualify for. However, there is no leave for the other parent available at any point in pregnancy loss.

Almost half of women experiencing miscarriage were not told about or offered pregnancy-related leave and many felt forced to return to work before they were ready. The ensuing increased absenteeism, reduced productivity and quality of work then led to them facing disciplinary actions. Mothers are only protected by law from discrimination, dismissal, or unfair treatment for two weeks.

And even when employers have their hearts in the right place, the lack of guidance and training for managers in helping those deal with pregnancy loss means that they struggle to know how best to offer support. 

Ultimately, 1 in 10 end up resigning because of the lack of support in the workplace.

What are the industry standards and recent trends? 

New Zealand has been a trailblazer in this regard, giving the legal right to paid leave after pregnancy loss, which is yet to be made statutory in the UK.  Luckily, progressive employers have embraced this approach and many in the last year have started offering paid leave for pregnancy loss as well as more comprehensive packages.

Tier 1

In April 2021, UK-based TV network Channel 4 announced it would be introducing a pregnancy loss policy for its staff, in what it claimed to be a world’s first. It would encompass all aspects of pregnancy loss, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and abortion, and aims to support “both women and men who have been affected whether it happens directly to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother, regardless of the nature of their loss, and whatever their length of service. It also recognizes pregnancy loss as an experience not isolated to women or heterosexual couples.”

It also includes two weeks fully paid leave (flexible), additional paid leave for medical appointments, coaching and therapy sessions and virtual support 24/7.

Many have followed suit, including Monzo, Co-op, Zego, introducing a similar array of resources and support.

Tier 2

Other companies who are also offering up to two weeks of paid leave include: Kingsley Napley, YuLife, WeAgile, Bloom & Wild, Able & Cole, and Kellog’s with a combination of resources. This might include having a dedicated workplace policy and guidance, support groups, education and awareness as well as training for managers in how best to support their staff. 

Fortunately, this is not a conclusive list and is growing everyday, as more and more employers realise the importance of providing guidance and support in a difficult time of their lives for a healthy and happy workforce.

More to come...

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs on the other life stages, and how (and why) employers should consider parenting benefits to boost their workforce.

Until next time, you can read more about dealing with pregnancy loss at work here:

How should employers deal with pregnancy loss

4 Companies offering miscarriage leave 

10 Businesses offering Miscarriage Leave 

Co-op announces comprehensive Pregnancy Loss Policy 

Zego gives Employees Paid Leave for Pregnancy Loss

The Latest Employer to offer Pregnancy Loss Paid Leave

Campaign to Make Miscarriage Leave Statutory

Or read our previous edition here.

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