Disclaimer: The topics discussed in this article, some readers may find upsetting.
Some well-known companies have been paving the way by offering their employees additional family support through the introduction of family-friendly policies. The policies recognise the issues faced by women, men, and non-heterosexual couples when starting a family such as pregnancy loss and IVF. We anticipate that other employers will begin to follow suit.
An aim of these policies is to end the stigma around women’s health issues by helping to normalise taboo subjects such as the ones discussed in this article. It may be surprising to know just how many people are affected by the topics discussed in this article.
Pregnancy loss statistics
- An estimated 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, with most of these occurring in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
- A miscarriage doubles the risk of depression and quadruples the risk of suicide.
- 1 in 3 women are thought to have an abortion throughout their lifetime.
- 3% of all pregnancies result in stillbirth.
These statistics highlight the importance of having support and resources in place for your employees. It is likely you will have employees within your business who will go through these experiences. Therefore it is important to show compassion and support to your employees who may be going through this.
Taking this seriously and introducing further support can only benefit both the employee and the employer. It allows for transparency and reduces the chance of presenteeism. Most importantly you will be supporting your employees’ mental health. Being supportive to employees helps them to process what has happened and return to work focused on the role.
Employers will be in a strong position in terms of talent attraction and retention. It sends out a positive message to future recruits that as an employer you acknowledge and understand not all pregnancies end happily.
Pregnancy Loss Leave
Under current employment law, businesses are only obliged to implement planned maternity or paternity leave if a loss occurs after 24 weeks. This is when it is considered a stillbirth. Therefore the employee would not be able to qualify for maternity leave or pay if they have a miscarriage.
As an employer, you may want to consider offering support to your employees who have experienced a pregnancy loss before 24 weeks. You could follow in the footsteps of companies such as Channel 4 and implement a suitable policy. Employers should at least find a reasonable way to support staff during these difficult times. For example, offering paid leave and flexibility around returning to work.
Employees do not have a statutory right to take time off, paid or unpaid, for fertility treatment such as IVF. However, employees do have some employment rights related to undergoing IVF. This depends on which stage of the process of IVF that they have reached. A woman is deemed pregnant from implantation until it is determined otherwise. Therefore an employee is entitled to time off for antenatal appointments from the point of implantation.
As employers, you could implement policies that involve time off for fertility treatment. It is suggested this should be for both the female and male employees who are undergoing or partner’s undergoing the treatment. For example, a policy could include paid time off for a number of appointments, after which the employee would then need to take annual leave or unpaid leave.
Not all companies will have a set policy in place for these types of situations. Instead, they may decide to help employees on a case-by-case basis. This means a policy is not required for companies to provide additional paid leave, annual leave, and compassionate leave.
Below is a list of some organisations which have recently implemented new family-friendly policies.
This initiative, named as LADfamily has introduced both pregnancy loss leave and fertility leave as part of the benefits available to their employees.
- Their pregnancy loss policy provides a minimum of 10 days’ paid leave to help employees cope with a loss.
- There is no minimum length of pregnancy in order to take leave and employees can make use of it regardless of the nature of the loss.
- It will support members of staff with paid time off to attend any medical appointments. This also applies to those supporting a partner in attending appointments.
- Fertility leave for employees or supporting partners of those undergoing fertility treatment.
- Employees can take paid time off for the purpose of receiving and recovering from this treatment, as well as attending appointments associated with the process.
- Employees can have two weeks of paid leave for pregnancy loss and paid leave for related medical appointments regardless of the nature of their loss and their length of service at the company.
- Resources available including medical support, counselling, and a buddying scheme to support employees returning to work after a loss.
- An option available for flexible working for the period after the pregnancy loss
- Supports both men and women who have been affected, whether it has happened directly to them, their partner, or their baby’s surrogate mother
- Employees will be given 10 extra days of leave if they lose a baby due to abortion, miscarriage, or stillbirth regardless of when in the pregnancy a loss occurs.
- This leave also extends to partners and surrogate mothers
- 8 days of additional paid leave for staff who are undergoing fertility treatment, diagnosis, or consultations.
- Mental health support in the form of sick leave days, first aid, and an employee assistance programme.
If you have any further questions or queries about the content above or would like to request a demo for oneHR, please don’t hesitate to contact the oneHR team today.
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