The latest survey report, Workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss, from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, identifies a big gap in current support for employees. 

Just 25% of employees who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss received paid compassionate or other special leave from their employer (in addition to any statutory entitlement such as sick pay), new CIPD research finds.  And yet almost half (46%) said such leave was or would have been beneficial.

Furthermore, just one in three (37%) organisations have a formal policy to support employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss.

Just 40% of employees who experienced pregnancy or baby loss felt their manager showed understanding that it can be a challenging time. However, 70% of those who didn’t feel supported by their line manager said that support would have been beneficial.

 In response, the CIPD says that businesses should ensure they have effective support in place for employees, including an inclusive policy that recognises all experiences of loss. Employers should also ensure that line managers are equipped with specialist training to handle sensitive issues appropriately.

The majority of employees who said they felt supported by their employer when they experienced pregnancy or baby loss reported a positive impact on their mental wellbeing (60%) and performance in their job (55%), as well as their commitment and intention to stay with their employer (58% and 57% respectively).

The top three forms of employer support, which employees who had experienced pregnancy or baby loss said were, or would have been, most helpful with their experience are: paid compassionate or other special leave (46%), understanding from their manager that it can be a challenging time (40%), and paid time off to attend appointments (34%).

Further findings from the report:

  • One in five (21%) people who had experienced pregnancy or baby loss said they didn’t receive any support from their employer 
  • Almost a quarter (24%) of this same audience have considered leaving their job because of their experience at work in relation to pregnancy or baby loss
  • Only a quarter (24%) of senior HR professionals and decision makers surveyed said that their organisation encourages an open and supportive climate to a great extent, where employees can talk about sensitive issues like pregnancy loss

Rachel Suff, senior wellbeing adviser for the CIPD said:

“Pregnancy and baby loss affect people across the UK every day. Workplace support can make a real difference to employees during a difficult time. Employers should manage absence and leave with compassion and flexibility, and make sure line managers know how to support people with sensitivity and understanding.” 

Jill Miller, senior diversity and inclusion adviser for the CIPD said:

“Pregnancy and baby loss is often a hidden issue in the workplace. Employers need to create compassionate cultures to ensure anyone experiencing pregnancy or baby loss feels able to access the support they need.     

“Pregnancy and baby loss don’t just impact women in the workplace. Employers should ensure their workplace support includes partners, who are often providing support as well as grieving themselves. It’s essential that the organisation’s approach is underpinned by the principles of empathy and inclusivity.”

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