Council first to offer paid miscarriage leave

An east London council is believed to be the first local authority in the country to offer full paid leave to employees who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Women who suffer the loss of a baby at any stage in their pregnancy will be entitled to a week off work in plans unveiled by Barking and Dagenham Council this week.

A man or woman whose partner has a miscarriage or stillbirth will also get the same amount of time away from work to support them and to help cope with the loss, the local authority said.

Under UK law there is no obligation for employers to give someone bereavement leave if they or their partner loses a baby before the 24th week of pregnancy.

Businesses also only have to allow parents to use planned maternity or paternity leave if their child is stillborn after 24 weeks.

Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council Dominic Twomey said: “It beggars belief that in 2021 parents who tragically suffer a miscarriage are left with little support, and in many cases, no option but to go back to work or be signed-off sick.

“We hope our changes will go some way to helping support our employees when they need it the most, while also encouraging other organisations to do the same.”

Around one in four pregnancies in England end in miscarriage, according to the Miscarriage Association.

Barking and Dagenham Council said it would also be offering “targeted support” to employees who lose a baby, including a “buddy system” designed to help them return to work.

Cllr Twomey added: “The council is recognising miscarriage is a real-life event and we want to support parents at this very sad time by acknowledging their loss and finding ways to support them.

“As a nation we need to do more to talk about miscarriages and remove the stigma surrounding the subject.”

Last month Channel 4 introduced a pregnancy loss policy of two weeks of paid leave, saying it believed it was a world first for employers. On Monday online bank Monzo announced paid leave for employees affected by miscarriage.

Barking and Dagenham said it was inspired by New Zealand, where in March parliament voted to give mothers and their partners three days of paid bereavement leave after a miscarriage.

Advertisement

Rachael Burford

Local Democracy Reporter