Supporting employees who experience baby loss in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy 

February, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

Employers are likely to have experienced some of their employees losing a baby before the 24 week mark. Employees may have been open about it with their employers; others may not have been especially if their pregnancy was in the early stages.

The Government has just launched a new scheme for parents who experience a loss of pregnancy before 24 weeks. The scheme went live at 9am on 22 February 2024 and allows parents in this situation to request a baby loss certificate.  The scheme is voluntary and forms part of the aims in the Women’s Health Strategy for England and follows recommendations from the Pregnancy Loss Review.

Unfortunately employment law is still slightly behind.

If the baby loss occurs after the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, the birth mother can have up to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave and pay and the birth father can still have up to 2 weeks paternity leave and pay. In addition, both parents will be entitlement to 2 weeks of parental bereavement leave after their maternity and paternity leave finishes. Employers should be mindful of the language used in any internal policies for this situation – the parents may not wish to refer to maternity or paternity in this situation. Communication with the employee will be key and employer’s should allow the employee to express their preference when talking to them about leave.

However, for those who experience baby loss in the first 24 weeks, there is no entitlement to statutory maternity, paternity or parental bereavement leave. Many employers will consider baby loss as a bereavement and allow employees time off after this happens. Employers should also consider their internal policies and in the absence of one for this situation, create one to cover how they would deal with any leave for pregnancy loss in the first 24 weeks.

Experiencing baby loss can be a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved. It is important for employers to approach the situation with sensitivity and provide support to their employees. This support can take many forms, such as allowing for a gradual return to work or adjusting the employee's work schedule. Employers can also direct their employees to additional resources, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, relevant charities, or internal mental health champions and first aiders.

The Government’s scheme is a positive step in the right direction. In the absence of protection under employment law, it is hoped that employers will note this and ensure that their internal policies also support those experiencing baby loss in the first 24 weeks.


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