*Content warning: discussion of miscarriage and stillbirth*
The pain of miscarriage impacts countless lives: One in four pregnancies will result in this reality. While the emotional and physical ramifications can be incredibly hard to go through, right now, however, there is no statutory paid leave given to those who experience baby loss before 24 weeks.
Now, SNP MP Angela Crawley is calling on the government to give those who experience a miscarriage – and their partners – the legal right to 3 days of paid leave. She will introduce a private members' bill regarding pre-24 week baby loss to Parliament in June, reports the BBC, with this being due to have its first full debate in December.
Speaking of the need to raise this issue, she said: "I've received tonnes and tonnes of correspondence on this issue from fathers, from mothers and from families who have experienced miscarriage.
"They have outlined that, in most cases, there was a degree of stigma or shame to experiencing a miscarriage. Many people took unpaid leave or sick leave," she added.
Speaking to Sky News she explained: "There are companies who offer greater leave and absolutely I would love to see more companies introduce a policy of seven to 14 days paid, but my bill would be primarily to seek three days paid leave for parents before 24 weeks."
Can you have sick leave for a miscarriage?
Right now, if you suffer a miscarriage, you are entitled to take sick leave, if you are not well enough to work. If you are signed off sick by your doctor, then your sick leave will be paid – but this might only be for part of the time that you are off, depending on the policy at your place of work. If your doctor signs the leave as pregnancy-related, however, it can't be counted towards any absences for which your employer can consider warnings and dismissal.
"Absence for this reason is protected by pregnancy-related leave rules which mean it must be recorded separately to general sickness and cannot be used against them [the person who has had the miscarriage] in any way," says the Miscarriage Association.
What happens in the case of baby loss, after 24 weeks?
Any loss from 24 weeks on is known as a stillbirth, rather than a miscarriage. If this happens to you, then you are entitled to your maternity leave and both you and your partner are entitled to two weeks of Parental Bereavement Leave, according to the Miscarriage Association.
The latter entitles a person who is going through this loss to two weeks of paid leave at £151.97 a week, or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower amount.
What is the'Pregnancy Loss Pledge'?
The charity is urging firms to sign up to their 'Pregnancy Loss Pledge,' which asks employers to "understand and implement the rules around pregnancy-related leave, create a supportive work environment, to have a policy or guidance in place, to ensure line managers have access to resources to help them manage a difficult situation and to support people, including partners, back to work by showing flexibility wherever possible."
Of the pledge, the charity's National Director Ruth Bender Atik said: "Since we launched our workplace resources a year ago, it’s been very heartening to see so many organisations, large and small, who are already committed to supporting their staff through what can be an extremely distressing experience.
"But we know there is more to be done and our aim is that every workplace acknowledges the impact of pregnancy loss and treats their staff with empathy and understanding."
Baby loss mental health resources
If you have experienced a stillbirth, Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity has a helpline: 0808 164 3332 or join their online support community: sands.community
You can call the midwives at Tommy's charity, who have had bereavement training, on 0800 0147 800
If you are worried about your mental health, speak to your GP
You might want to arrange grief counselling or therapy. At A Loss has a search function to help you find someone to talk to, in your area ataloss.org
If you have experienced miscarriage (baby loss before 24 weeks) you can call The Miscarriage Association Helpline, on 01924 200799
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