Unfortunately, one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. A miscarriage can affect a woman and her partner in different ways, and both will need support and help from their employers if they suffer a miscarriage. However early a miscarriage takes place it is a loss of a baby.
If an employee suffers a miscarriage it helps for managers to be supportive and considerate, to help the employee cope with their loss. A lack of support from an employer during a difficult time in an employee’s life, can lower their commitment to their job and affect their motivation at work; this may lead to increased absences, lower standards of work and even the employee leaving the business.
A miscarriage between week 1 and 12 of pregnancy is an early miscarriage, between week 12 and 24 is known as a late miscarriage, and if the baby unfortunately dies after week 24 of pregnancy this is called still birth.
How miscarriage can affect an employee at work
If an employee has experienced a miscarriage they may:
- Struggle with social interaction with people
- Be more tearful or irritable
- Find concentrating and being motivated hard
- Have trouble coping with their mental health
- Be withdrawn and not want to do anything
- Find sleeping hard
What an employer can do to help
Ways an employer can help an employee following a miscarriage include:
- Acknowledge the employee’s loss and say how sorry you are
- Be approachable and listen if the employee wishes to talk
- Offer support to the employee, by asking them what support they need
- Be supportive of any time off the employee needs to take, and keep in touch while the employee is off
- Check to see if the employee would prefer their colleagues to be informed of their loss, as they do have the right for this to remain confidential if they wish it to be
- Send a card or flowers to the employees’ home from the workforce
- Support an employee when they are ready to return to work, take guidance from them on how they would prefer it to be done
It is important for employers to have a good maternity policy in place that covers miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and still birth. By having a full policy in place it ensures employees are treated fairly and can make it easier for employees to share any difficulties they may encounter with their managers. Often these can be a taboo subject.
Miscarriage and the law
If an employee experiences a miscarriage, then any time off due to this, should be recorded as pregnancy related absence and should not be used against the employee in any way, by means of disciplinary or in a redundancy situation.
The same as with other sickness absence, an employee can self-certify for up to seven days, after which they will need a note from their GP.
There is no time limit on absence after a miscarriage and an employee should be entitled to sick pay in the usual way.
If a pregnancy results in a still birth, where the baby dies after the 24th week of pregnancy, an employee is entitled to statutory maternity leave and pay.
Miscarriage at work
A woman may begin to miscarry while she is at work, if this happens the woman is likely to be scared and upset and also embarrassed.
Symptoms of a miscarriage include
- Bleeding that can be heavy
- Stomach pains and cramps which can be severe
- Feeling faint or passing out – this is more frequent with an ectopic pregnancy which can be life-threatening
The employee will need to get medical assistance asap, so she will need to be taken to a hospital or her GP (or she may wish to go home first). If appropriate, it is important that her partner is called to inform them of the situation and as an employer you may need to arrange for her to be taken to where she needs to go, depending on the distance or how the employee is, it is advisable she does not drive herself.
If your employee is the father of the baby and finds out their partner is potentially having a miscarriage, they will want to leave work straight away to get to their partner, it is important they are allowed to do this. Understanding and support must be given to fathers as well as mothers.
If you would like more information on miscarriage in the workplace or information on any HR well-being topic please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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