Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss at Work; what are my Employee's rights and should I be doing more?
Later this year, the House of Commons is set to debate on a private members' bill which will potentially see the introduction of statutory Miscarriage Leave. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage which totals around 250,000 per year and as a result we are seeing an increase in Companies implementing Pregnancy or Parental Loss Policies to support their staff.
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 came into force in April 2020. The Act allows parents who have a stillbirth after 24 weeks' of pregnancy, as well as parents who lose a child under the age of 18, the right to two weeks off work. Parents will receive statutory pay during this two week period. Currently the rate is set at £151.97 per week or 90% of the Employee's average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
Last year, a number of Companies have announced that they will be going above and beyond their legal obligations. Online bank, Monzo has introduced paid leave for Employees who are impacted by the loss of a pregnancy. Monzo will allow their employees up to 10 extra days of paid leave if they lose a baby due to abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth regardless of when it occurs in the pregnancy. Monzo will allow managers to grant their Employees additional leave if they feel the Employee needs more than the initial 10 days.
Statutory provisions do not currently offer individuals who are impacted by pregnancy loss prior to 24 weeks' any right to maternity and/or paternity leave or pay. This means that it is left to the discretion of the Employers to offer compassionate leave, annual leave or unpaid holiday. Women who suffer from a pregnancy loss will be entitled to self-certify sickness absence for up to 7 days (although at the time of writing (January 2022) there are some special and temporary provisions that have been brought in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which temporarily allows Employees to self-certify their sickness for longer) and may be entitled to statutory sickness pay during this time. However, Employees may require further time off to assist them in dealing with their pregnancy loss and it is important that both the Employer and Employee communicate with one another to ensure that the business is supporting the Employee on their return to the workplace. Channel 4 have introduced a Pregnancy Loss Policy which allows Employees two weeks' paid leave if they are affected by the loss of a pregnancy.
There has been overwhelming praise for Employers who are choosing to implement structured policies to support Employees who have been affected by the loss of a pregnancy, but many have decided that a robust and considerate compassionate leave policy is sufficient to support their workforce. Many Employers have therefore opted to roll out a policy designed to support Employees deal with traumatic personal circumstances including the death of a close relative or a pregnancy loss. Currently, there is no legislation in place which states that you must offer Employees time off to deal with the impact of a pregnancy loss. However, it is vital that you consider an individual's circumstances to ensure you are meeting your duty of care obligations.
If you require any assistance deciding if any of these policies are appropriate for your business or if you or any of your Employees, suffer from a pregnancy or parental bereavement and need help understanding the relevant employment law, please contact a member of the Employment Law Team for assistance on 01522 814638.