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Friday 27 August 2021

FDA calls for new pregnancy loss policy


Equality Officer Victoria Jones has written to the Cabinet Office calling on Civil Service HR to work with the FDA to create a pregnancy loss policy that would empower managers to grant paid time off – for both parents – following a miscarriage.

Research from Maternity Action estimates that 150,000 working women will have a miscarriage each year, indicating that a that a notable proportion of civil servants, both women and their partners, will be impacted by this all-too-common occurrence. 

In the letter, Jones highlights that “we have recently seen a step-change in proactive action from employers on this issue”, with Monzo Bank and Channel 4 both launching pregnancy loss policies for their staff which allow two weeks paid leave, as well as options around paid time off for medical appointments, a commitment to flexible working and professional and peer support. 

The current civil service policy reads: “If you suffer a miscarriage before 24 weeks of your pregnancy, you will not be eligible for statutory parental bereavement leave. However, you may need to take time away from work to recover from your loss. Your manager will consider any request for special leave sympathetically.

“If you take sick leave, your manager will support you through the normal attendance management process. For the two weeks following your miscarriage, any sick leave you may take will be recorded but will not count for attendance management purposes.”

Jones argues that this current policy provision “falls short of explicitly guaranteeing paid time off following a miscarriage” and also “fails to acknowledge the impact pregnancy loss can have on partners too”.

In addition to the pregnancy loss policy, Jones says the FDA is also “keen to collaborate on creating a peer support system and ensuring that signposting to professional help, and training for line managers is robust and effective”.

“There is an opportunity now for civil service employers to pro-actively create an environment which supports women and their partners and is more open, inclusive and progressive. Work with us,” she adds.

Alongside the letter, Jones has also written for Civil Service world, detailing her personal experience, which she says made her “think about how others manage, particularly when they don’t have the support from work that I was fortunate enough to have”.

“Miscarriage is so common,” she writes. “But in my experience having the right support from work and the option of taking time away when you need it has made the world of difference to my recovery and my mental health. We’re asking the Cabinet Office to work with us to create the same environment for civil servants impacted by pregnancy loss.”

You can read the full opinion piece here and the write up from Civil Service World here.

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