Sadly miscarriage is very common. It affects around 25% of all pregnancies and it is highly likely that you will know someone who has had a miscarriage. It may even be you 🙁
As an employer we are not taught how to support an employee through miscarriage and this article seeks to give you a step-by-step approach as to how you can support your employee through this difficult time.
- Show your support. What do they need from you? It may be that they want you to tell their colleagues that knew about their pregnancy? It may also be that they want you not to tell anyone and ask you to protect their privacy whilst they grieve.
- Consider being flexible about the reporting of sickness absence following a miscarriage, the employee may well have been distressed and reporting her absence was the last thing on her mind.
- Remember any pregnancy related absence (including miscarriage) should not be counted for absence management purposes including measures of absenteeism such as the Bradford Factor.
- Sensitively ascertain at what stage in the pregnancy the miscarriage occurred. You will want to know this as if the miscarriage was after 24 weeks the employee is entitled to maternity leave and pay if they qualify and parental bereavement pay and leave.
- Before 24 weeks, the employee has a statutory right to unpaid time off for dependents and will be able to self certify that they are unfit for work. A GP may provide a Statement of Fitness for Work. They will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and any company sick pay you have.
- When you speak to their partner, remember to ask how they are too. They will be suffering a bereavement as well. All too often partners get forgotten about, don’t be that employer.
- Expect the unexpected. An employee may say they want to come back as soon as possible, then change their mind. They may say they want no-one to know, then share their news on social media.
- When it comes to a return to work, the employee may be anxious about returning. You should discuss with the employee whether you can take any steps that would make the return to work easier. They should be encouraged to take the time they need and not return to work before they are ready.
- Some colleagues may worry about what they will say when the employee returns and look to the employer to help them too. The employer should discuss with the employee how they would prefer to communicate their loss. It is not unusual for a woman who has suffered a miscarriage to contact her colleagues and express that she would like them to not ask questions on her return to work. This should be respected.
Remember an employee will be covered by the pregnancy/maternity and sex discrimination aspects of the Equality Act 2010, if they suffer a detriment in any way as a result of their miscarriage. Whether physical illness or emotional trauma it will all be pregnancy related so employers should treat carefully to make sure that their employees are supported.
An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can be a great addition to the employer’s toolkit when it comes to supporting an employee through a miscarriage. If you would like a quote for your business please call us on 01527 909436.