The recent news that Monzo and London Council are to offer employees paid leave after pregnancy loss is encouraging but also a long time coming.
Although it is great that these organisations are taking the lead on providing women and their partners the safety net of paid leave, there are still a lot of places where this subject is taboo, and employees struggle to prompt conversations around their own circumstances. As a result, many women and men have been left without support during what can be a very traumatic experience, as more than one in five pregnancies, sadly, ends in miscarriage.
Currently, there is no legal requirement to offer paid miscarriage leave for a woman or her partner, and there is a lot of variation in policies between workplaces. In some organisations, the only option for those affected is to take pregnancy-related sick leave, which is often paid at a fraction of their normal wage. This means that they will have the added stress of dealing with the loss of earnings while trying to grieve.
The law has failed to protect these men and women in their most vulnerable moment but even with the introduction of paid miscarriage leave, there are still major issues and reluctance from women over alerting their employer to the fact that they are intending to start a family. While the law stipulates that those in a workplace cannot be discriminated against because of this, we see it happen time and time again.
This problem also raises an important point over the culture in a lot of places of work and the pressure that many women have felt to put off starting a family over the risk of losing out on job progression in general. If women don’t feel comfortable discussing family planning, they are also much less likely to want to discuss a potentially traumatic loss, placing them at a disadvantage to want to seek out the help they made need.
More businesses introducing policies that make it easier for people to broach the subject, and encourage them to take the time off they need, is a great way to remove the stigma around this loss. Following these recent high-profile organisations updating their procedures, we should hopefully start to see others doing the same, ensuring that those who need it are receiving the correct support in their time of need.
It is encouraging to see businesses across different sectors introducing this type of support, showcasing how this issue transcends typical corporate competition and places the wellbeing of women and men at the forefront of this issue. This is a shared experience for not just millions within the UK but across the world and it will take a collaborative effort to combat and remove the barriers to support that many face.
As we start to see several big organisations take the first steps towards normalising conversations around this type of loss and ensuring that those who need it are receiving the correct support. We must continue to push for more protection for those who need it, in order to allow them time to grieve.
I hope this is only the beginning and we continue to see more businesses of all sizes follow suit.