An estimated one in four pregnancies in the UK end in loss, yet this can be a hidden issue in the workplace. How can employers provide compassionate and inclusive support for those affected, throughout all stages of pregnancy and baby loss?
Many employers in the UK are working hard to achieve a workplace culture that is compassionate, inclusive and supportive. Getting this right is proven to positively impact an employee’s mental wellbeing, as well as their performance, commitment and intention to stay with their employer.
Do your policies and practices measure up?
Navigating the Deeply Emotional and Personal Journey of Pregnancy or Baby Loss
For employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss, this will be an extremely challenging time. Often employers are not supporting their employees as well as they could – perhaps because it has previously been a hidden subject in the workplace, considered too personal to openly discuss, or that employers and managers fear getting it wrong and treating the matter without the required sensitivity.
A recent report from CIPD demonstrates that there is a significant gap in workplace support, as evidenced by their latest survey results, leaving almost a quarter of employees considering leaving their job because of their experience in work in relation to pregnancy or baby loss.
How Does Your Organisation Offer Support, and Could You be Doing More?
- Paid compassionate leave or other special leave? Nearly half of the employees surveyed (46%) said that such leave was/would have been beneficial. However, whilst paid compassionate leave may seem an obvious option for employees who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss, the new research shows that only 25% of employees received paid compassionate leave or other special leave in addition to any statutory entitlement such as sick pay.
- A formal policy to support employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss? Only one in three employers have a formal policy, to help employees and employers navigate this.
- Understanding from your managers? 60% of employees who experienced pregnancy or baby loss felt their managers failed to show understanding. Of those, 70% agreed that understanding and support from their manager(s) would have been beneficial. This may be a training need for your managers, to upskill them and give them greater confidence in handling tricky or sensitive conversations.
- An open and supportive climate, where employees can talk about sensitive issues like pregnancy or baby loss? Only a quarter of the senior HR professionals and decision makers surveyed said that their organisation encourages a supportive, open culture to facilitate sensitive topics like these being discussed. Perhaps reflect on whether you could be doing more to build and maintain a supportive environment for your staff.
- Paid time off to attend appointments? This was identified by employees as one of the top three forms of employer support which would have been most helpful to employees experiencing loss (alongside paid compassionate leave, and understanding from managers).
Pregnancy and baby loss affects people across the UK every day, and the impact is felt not only by the grieving mother, but also by their partner and their family members, including for example the potential grandparents who may be supporting their adult children through associated surgical procedures and the grief process, whilst of course also grieving themselves.