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After a miscarriage – Time to reflect and grieve

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The loss of an unborn child can be devastating, bringing about a whirlwind of emotions.

Angela Crawley (SNP MP) has renewed her call for the UK to implement a minimum three day period of paid leave for women who face this distressing situation, saying “miscarriage should be recognised as ‘a loss, not an illness”

With around 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage (which can refer to miscarriage and also ectopic and molar pregnancies), BBC Radio 5Live has undertaken a survey of employers to see what they offer in these situations. Many large organisations such as the BBC itself and the NHS treat miscarriage as a form of sick leave, and others put it in a bereavement category.

People may not feel able to tell their employer about the miscarriage for various reasons:

  • worry about being discriminated against for trying for a baby
  • wanting to return to the workplace quickly to get some routine back
  • not wanting other people to know
  • they may return to the office and then find more time is needed to process what has happened, and need time off.

If you (or an employee) are in the unfortunate position to have suffered a miscarriage, it’s important to know the relevant employment rights:

  • If time off after a miscarriage is needed, this can be treated as pregnancy-related, whether that be for physical or mental health reasons.
  • If an employer is not told, a person has suffered a miscarriage any sickness will be treated as ordinary sick leave and company sick leave policy may be applied.
  • If the sickness is recorded as pregnancy-related then it is protected and cannot be used in relation to redundancy, lack of promotion or disciplinary process.
  • If further time off related to a miscarriage is needed after an initial return to work, as long as that sickness absence time is recorded as pregnancy-related it is protected.

You may have heard that some employers believe that pregnancy-related sickness following a miscarriage is limited to two weeks which is incorrect. As long as the sick leave is certified as pregnancy-related you can take as much time as necessary.

Has your partner suffered a miscarriage, what rights do you have?

  • Unfortunately, partners are not entitled to pregnancy-related leave, however some workplaces do have provision contained with other absence policies.
  • Check whether there is an allowance for this in any compassionate/bereavement leave or family friendly policies.
  • See whether your employer offers paid or unpaid leave in this situation.

There are organisation out there to help deal with what is clearly a distressing time such as:

If you have been affected by the issues in this article, or are an employer needing further advice, contact our employment team who can offer you a free initial consultation.

Hazel Taylor

Posted:

Hazel Taylor

Paralegal

Hazel is often the first point of contact for clients of the employment team. She is a paralegal in our employment team having worked previously in both the Commercial Litigation and Company & Commercial teams as a legal secretary.