Having a miscarriage can be devastating. And with so many prominent people talk about their miscarriage experiences, more and more people are talking about the reality of losing a baby.
However, more often than not, pregnancy loss is always a topic that falls under the radar, especially when it comes to workplace policies.
But with more people talking about it and the release of insightful new documentaries like, Myleene Klass: Miscarriage and I, There’s no better time to discuss the importance of workplace pregnancy loss policies.
Current Pregnancy Loss Policies
Although celebrities such as Myleene Klass, Katherine Ryan and Stephanie Davis are working hard to break down and talk about the stigma surrounding miscarriage, in places like the UK pregnancy loss policies have a long way to go.
In March of this year, New Zealand adopted a monumental law allowing parents to take three days bereavement leave if they experience a miscarriage or stillbirth (regardless of the stage of pregnancy).
In the UK, however, there is no entitlement to paid leave when the loss occurs. before 24 weeks. Technically, British law does not recognize anything before 24 weeks as “childbirth”. Therefore, employees have no legal right to be absent from work, even if time must be taken for bereavement.
After 24 weeks of pregnancy, however, the rules change a bit in the UK. Since April 2020, parents have the legal right to take time off work for “legal parental bereavement”. This applies if the parents have suffered the death of a child, including miscarriage or stillbirth after 24 weeks.
However, this baby loss awareness week we ask: does this law go far enough? The emotional and physical trauma that can accompany a miscarriage should not be underestimated. It’s just not as easy as getting up and going to work the day after such a heartbreaking ordeal.
This year, some companies have recognized it and have implemented big changes. Channel 4 and Monzo are among the first brands to have specific miscarriage policies in place. These companies are now offering both parents up to two weeks of paid vacation after a miscarriage.
Why is it so important that companies have pregnancy loss policies
In light of the pandemic, businesses around the world know more than ever how important health and well-being is to their employees. Compassion and understanding are also essential to maintaining a strong and happy workforce.
In the United States, approximately 24,000 babies are stillbirths each year, and about 1 in 100 pregnancies at 20 weeks gestation and later is affected by stillbirth, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Losing a baby during pregnancy remains a sad reality for many families. With so many people having to endure the pain of pregnancy loss, a compassionate approach from business is the only way to go.
Research from Imperial College London has revealed the consequences these tragedies often have on women’s mental health. It found that nearly a third of women who suffered a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Moderate to severe anxiety and depression have also been commonly reported in people who have suffered a miscarriage. Another study by Tommy’s National Center for Miscarriage Research found that about one in four women would experience at least one miscarriage in their lifetime.
Obviously, miscarriages are more common than many people realize. The taboo surrounding the subject of pregnancy loss has too often been overlooked.
However, with greater awareness, we should also see better policies in place for women who have had to go through such a difficult experience.
What can be done?
While there are currently no laws in place regarding leave from work after miscarriage in places like the UK, there are many ways that there are many ways that there are ways that there are ways that there are ways in which businesses can take matters into their own hands.
Like Monzo and Channel 4, this is a great option for other companies to introduce their own formal policies. This way, people who have experienced the pain of pregnancy loss will feel financially and emotionally supported by their workplace.
It’s not the only thing businesses can implement, either. There are many other ways to make sure employees feel supported and heard, such as:
- Raise awareness of the loss of pregnancy and fight against the taboo.
- Make sure your staff have access to useful sources of information about pregnancy loss.
- Offer compassionate leave and mental health days.
- Train managers and other staff on how to support people who have experienced pregnancy loss.
- Provide flexible work options for those who have experienced pregnancy loss.
We are certainly moving in the right direction when it comes to pregnancy loss policies and greater awareness, with public figures grappling with taboos on topics ranging from miscarriage to postpartum depression and postpartum bleeding. However, there is still a long way to go.
Following this year’s Baby Loss Awareness Week, fear not the topic. Communicate with loved ones who may be in pain and help implement new policies in your workplace.