In March, New Zealand’s parliament approved legislation that gives couples who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth three days of paid leave. Less than two months later, three private companies in the U.K. are starting to offer their own versions of paid leave for pregnancy loss.
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4, digital bank Monzo and publisher LADbible Group have announced plans to offer paid leave for employees that have suffered pregnancy loss. The idea is to allow partners to come to terms with their loss without having to take sick leave.
Channel 4 is offering two weeks leave, fully paid, for pregnancy loss, “which includes but is not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth, and abortion,” the company said. Monzo’s paid leave is also two weeks, and applicable in instances of miscarriage or abortion, while LADbible Group will offer a minimum of 10 days’ paid leave to help employees cope with pregnancy loss and be able to attend any related medical appointments.
It is worth noting that all these companies are offering the leave to both male and female employees, regardless of whether the pregnancy loss happens to the employee directly, their partner, or a surrogate.
Why paid leave for miscarriages is important
Miscarriages are a common and urgent health issue. About 15% to 20% of recognized pregnancies miscarry, mostly in the first months of gestation.
And yet many workplaces, even in the most developed countries, have been slow to recognize the physical and emotional impact of these losses on their employees. In most cases, those experiencing miscarriage are being forced to use valuable sick days, lose money due to unpaid leave, or work through the pain.
There are many studies that highlight the connection between miscarriage and negative health outcomes for women.
A recent study found that one in six women who have a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy face long-term post-traumatic stress. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on maternal health, with another study showing that there has been a global increase in stillbirths, maternal mortality, and maternal depression.
The latest policies announced in New Zealand and the U.K. seem to prioritize employees’ wellbeing and are certainly in the right direction, given that this has been an unspoken topic for very long.
However, while paid leave for miscarriages may help mothers to deal with the various biological processes they must go through, it’s unlikely to be sufficient to allow the couples fully process their loss. As such, the leave should be viewed as the starting point in a longer-term intervention to support employees suffering pregnancy loss.
Read also on Moonshot: Parental leaves and benefits across the EU