One in four women suffer a miscarriage and one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Further, the recent Lancet series on miscarriage highlighted the huge, and still widely underestimated, mental health impact of miscarriage, with those who experience miscarriage facing a quadrupling risk of suicide.
Those who experience a miscarriage after 24 weeks, known as a stillbirth, are entitled to paid maternity leave – a policy which recognises the effects of such a tragedy.
But those experiencing miscarriage before the 6-month cut off are seemingly expected to turn up at work the next day, unaffected. This is because there is currently no legal requirement for employers to provide statutory paid leave for miscarriages that take place within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. Any absence is taken straight out of a sick pay allowance.
The Miscarriage Association advise employers to introduce compassionate leave for both partners, and some companies, including Channel 4, Monzo and Hallam Internet, have already introduced such policies.
But whether or not you are entitled to paid leave following a miscarriage shouldn’t depend on where you work, it should be a statutory right, in law, available to everyone.
We must follow countries like New Zealand and reform our outdated laws.
I have written to the Minister, calling for:
- A minimum of ten statutory days of paid leave for those who suffer miscarriages, and their partners.
- Two days paid leave when menstruation returns after the event.
- A phased return to work
- Paid leave for any associated or follow-up medical appointments and fertility treatment
I am also supporting Sarah Owen MP’s new bill to extend leave to people who miscarry.
For the hundreds of thousands of people who will experience miscarriage in the next year, we cannot afford to wait any longer.