Does your Agency have a Pregnancy Loss policy?
Have you considered having a pregnancy loss policy for your employees? 58% of UK businesses don’t have one. But why should you?
Does your Agency have a pregnancy loss policy?
The agency community at The Agency Collective always wants to do the right thing by their teams. As an industry we should be doing all we can to support women in agencies. The community is already supportive and caring towards anyone who experiences any kind of loss, and many offer paid leave to anyone experiencing pregnancy loss, but do you need to go as far as to put that into a policy?
What’s the current legal status?
If pregnancy loss occurs after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy, both parents are entitled to two weeks bereavement leave, paid at the statutory rate, and will be able to take maternity, paternity or shared parental leave. But if the loss occurs before the end of the 24th week, there is currently no legal provision in place. It is just given at the discretion of the employer. That sounds absolutely rubbish, doesn’t it?!
This means that many employers will rely on their sick pay policy, or perhaps even their compassionate leave policy, if they have one.
If you take more than a week off sick, you are required to get a fit note from a doctor to certify your sickness. If anyone has tried to make an appointment at the doctor’s recently, you will know how stressful that is.
Imagine having to go through that, to get some time off to grieve having just lost a baby.
Why should you have a separate policy?
Pregnancy loss can come with many devastating emotions – shame, failure, disappointment, grief, depression. Having a policy in place, lets your team know where they are and what support they can expect from you. Having it documented also lets your team know you are an employer that understands and supports them, and will make any conversations around miscarriage easier to have.
A policy can often formalise what already happens in practice, and having something written in place ensures there is consistency amongst your team, especially if someone new joins. It should set out other things you are willing to do to help, such as adjusted or flexible hours or duties following a miscarriage.
Should I pay employees to take time off following a pregnancy loss ?
Although the UK government has recently published a women’s health strategy setting out many recommended improvements, including a pregnancy loss certificate for those that occur before 24 weeks, it remains to be seen if they will introduce the much needed statutory two weeks’ pay.
Here at The Agency Collective, we recommend that you, where possible, pay anyone who needs it for time off following a miscarriage, including partners. We would always advise our agencies to do the right things by their teams. Employees stay where they feel welcome and supported. If you can ease the burden, and take some of the stress away, isn’t that a good thing?
You might not want to go as far as to commit to that in any policy, however by having a statement of intent to support your team, you are already going a step further than the majority of other businesses.
Review what you currently already have. Talk to your teams, and see what their experiences or thoughts are. You don’t necessarily need a full policy on it. A paragraph or two in your employee handbook would be enough. If you would like to talk through how to go about this, our resident HR expert, Sarah May is always happy to chat: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit The Miscarriage Association‘s website to sign up for the Pregnancy Loss Pledge, a campaign to get employers across the UK to commit to supporting their staff through pregnancy loss.