CIPD report reveals gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss

Published: October 18th, 2022

7 min read

It is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK end in loss during pregnancy or birth. Given this statistic and that a majority of people wanting to start or grow a family will be of working age, employers should be aware of the likelihood of their employees being affected by pregnancy or baby loss during their employment. The CIPD has published a report following two surveys - one of 2,023 HR professionals and decision makers and the other of 295 employees who had experience of pregnancy or baby loss in the last 5 years.

Some key findings were:

  • 53% of employees told their manager, 6% told someone in HR and 17% told their manager and HR about pregnancy or baby loss. 24% of employees didn't tell their manager or HR
  • Most (65%) of those who didn't tell their employer didn't do so because they felt it was a private matter, 28% were concerned about prying questions, 19% said they were considered about a potential impact on their career and 17% felt there was too much stigma
  • 9% of organisations have a stand-alone policy, but 27% say it is part of a wider policy. 33% of organisations didn't plan to introduce one, and 24% of senior decision makers didn't know whether they had one
  • 24% of employees have considered leaving their job because of their experience at work in relation to pregnancy or baby loss

The top 3 forms of support which were or would have been most helpful are:

  • paid leave (46%)
  • understanding from their manager that it can be a challenging time (40%)
  • and paid time off to attend appointments (34%)

The report shows that effective workplace support can benefit individuals at a difficult time in their life, as well as the organisation in terms of supporting employee performance, retention and attendance at work. The report also shows there is a significant gap in the level of support provided by different organisations.

The CIPD will be publishing guidance focussing on practical advice on developing workplace support in this area, which will concentrate on:

  • Raising awareness about the need for pregnancy or baby loss to be recognised as a workplace wellbeing issue. This requires careful thought and sensitivity in terms of the language and approach.
  • Creating an open, inclusive and supportive culture, to break down stigma and assure that people know they will be supported.
  • Developing an organisational framework to support employees, including specific policy provision, line manager guidance and training and access to sources of expert help, such as an EAP and signposting to external specialist charities.
  • Manage absence and leave with compassion and flexibility. Given the lack of statutory leave entitlement for pregnancy or baby loss before the end of the 24th week, consider what your organisations policy can be in offering paid leave in these circumstances. Absence management should also be flexible and consider the potentially far-reaching impacts, for both partners.
  • Although they cannot be counsellors or medical experts, equip your line managers with the training and resources to enable them to support their employees with empathy and understanding.

We will be keeping an eye out for the CIPD guidance, however in the meantime if you would like to discuss any aspect of your organisation responding to pregnancy or baby loss, please don't hesitate to contact the Forbes Employment team.

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