Empowering Women: Support in the Workplace
Updated: Oct 18
In 2023 most workplaces will have a maternity policy but many don’t (yet) have policies or guidance in place, to help an employee cope with loss during pregnancy or guidance to help team leaders navigate this very sensitive situation.
At InterlinkHR we understand the profound distress experienced by individuals in such situations. Coping with the emotional and physical anguish of a loss is already challenging, which is why we are committed to providing company owners and team leaders with the necessary resources to provide support at this difficult time. In this article we aim to provide you with some guidance on establishing a policy framework for both employees and their partners.
Miscarriage Law Campaign
Recently, Myleene Klass has expressed her joy at the groundbreaking achievement of the government's announcement to provide enhanced support for women who experience miscarriages during pregnancy.
Over the past four years, the former member of Hear’ Say has been a strong advocate for reforms to the Women’s Health Strategy within the parliamentary context. Her efforts have included advocating for a significant change – the elimination of the requirement for women to endure up to three miscarriages before receiving necessary assistance.
On the 22nd of July, the Department of Health and Social Care revealed a comprehensive set of new initiatives designed to uplift the health and overall well-being of women and girls.
Notably, among these initiatives, there is a pioneering pilot program aimed at providing medical intervention for women following each instance of miscarriage.
To mark this momentous commitment, Myleene Klass, shared an Instagram photo of herself alongside Labour MP Olivia Blake. The image captures them standing outside the Houses of Parliament, exulting in their accomplishment, both advocates proudly display signs that convey the triumphant messages of "we did it" and "miscarriage matters".
Miscarriage Policy in the Workplace
Many companies may find themselves uncertain about navigating these sensitive situations and may avoid addressing them due to concerns about mishandling the matter. With around one in four pregnancies ending in miscarriage, it's very likely that you will know someone, whether male or female, affected by this.
Below we have collated some useful insights that serve to assist managers or business owners in comprehending the support they can extend and the employee's rights that must be upheld in case intervention becomes necessary. Some of these rights are legal, necessitating compliance to prevent legal violations, while others hinge on the company's established policies.
Rights of Employees following a Miscarriage in the Workplace:
Employers should recognise that the choice of whether to disclose a miscarriage to colleagues and coworkers rests with the affected employee. While some individuals may find solace in the support of their colleagues, others might prefer to maintain their privacy. Employees have the right to safeguard their miscarriage experience as private, and their preferences regarding disclosure should be respected once their chosen action is agreed upon.
Sick Pay After a Miscarriage
Unfortunately, sick pay entitlement post-miscarriage adheres to the stipulations outlined in the employment contract. This might encompass either full pay during time off or statutory sick pay (SSP). Employees under zero-hours contracts are still eligible for sick pay if their earnings meet the necessary threshold over the preceding months. Temporary and agency staff might also qualify. The intricacies of these rules can be complex, but InterlinkHR can assist you with navigating this area.
In situations where physical or mental health requires a period of sick leave after a miscarriage, it should be classified as pregnancy-related sickness. This categorisation ensures that the leave cannot be exploited against the employee, for instance, as a basis for disciplinary actions, promotion denials, or redundancies.
Offering a phased return to work involves resuming duties with adjusted hours or roles initially. While this isn't an automatic entitlement, workplaces should possess absence policies governing the management of employees' return to work. Consistency should be maintained, and if other employees have been granted a phased return, parity should be upheld. A doctor's recommendation in a fit note might suggest a phased return.
Flexible Working/Reasonable Adjustments
Some employees may find that adjustments to their role or flexible work arrangements expedite their return to work. While legal entitlement to reasonable adjustments applies to disabilities, it doesn't extend to other circumstances like miscarriage. Organisations may have policies outlining possible flexible working and adjustments. Encouraging open communication and allowing employees to express challenges and potential solutions can aid in addressing their needs.
For partners of individuals who've experienced a miscarriage, there are no legally mandated rights to pregnancy-related leave or sickness absence. Some companies may have provisions within miscarriage policies or offer compassionate leave. Options for partners can vary, ranging from unpaid leave to utilising accrued vacation days.
By understanding and respecting these rights, employers can navigate these complex scenarios empathetically and appropriately, ensuring a supportive environment for their employees during difficult times.
Does your company, currently have a policy in place to address this subject within your business? If not, please reach out to us for assistance and guidance in incorporating such a policy into your company's core handbook. InterlinkHR is dedicated to advocating for and providing support the workplace.