Trend

Addressing the taboo of miscarriage

How UK creative industries can create inclusive and supportive workplace policies related to miscarriage leave.

Romanie Thomas, Juggle Jobs

CEO and Founder

Share


72% of British women contribute to the economy; 81% of them will have children at some point in their lifetime. That’s 20 million working people with kids. And yet, the conversation around pregnancy, miscarriage and stillbirths is still woefully archaic.

Let us be clear: there are few life events as pervasive and traumatic as miscarriage. One in four pregnancies end in it (one in 250 are stillborn) — and one in six women experience long-term post-traumatic stress disorder because of it.

Sadly, the support offered by the NHS is weak. Women who have suffered miscarriages are provided a GP sick note for statutory sick leave to manage their loss, in exactly the same way as those with, say, morning sickness or a bad bout of flu. That’s better than nothing, but can anyone really say that it’s on par?

Pregnant, then not….how do we normalise the conversation?

Deciding on how to approach work after having a miscarriage can also be very difficult. Telling a manager, for example, that you miscarried, could mean question marks regarding promotion; ‘Is she trying for a baby?’. At a time of huge emotional strain, this kind of discrimination piles the pressure on women to simply ‘get on with it’ and not process their loss.

In New Zealand, Labour MP Ginny Anderson presented a bill to Parliament in regards to implementing policy changes, stating: “The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss. That loss takes time to recover… physically and mentally.” Green MP, Jan Logie, echoed those words: “It is an incredibly normal experience, but normal doesn’t make it easy.”

Governments need to note the unanimous vote made by New Zealand’s parliament offering grieving parents three days paid time off (PTO) after a miscarriage or stillbirth, placing the country at the forefront of progressive policy.

Other countries should at least match this.

And wherever government rules are insufficient, businesses need to be acountable and provide a comprehensive miscarriage policy. Without clear guidance, even the most good intentioned, compassionate and kind managers may be unsure on how to respond. The Miscarriage Association provides a downloadable template here for businesses to use.

However, the bottom line is usually this: consider implementing paid time off. It takes the pressure off parents to decide between taking holiday or Statutory Sick Pay, allowing them to process the loss without worrying about money.

The most successful companies will go a step further, and actively highlight that it’s acceptable to grieve and take leave, instilling a sense of trust within women.

Romanie Thomas, Founder & CEO of Juggle Jobs

A more compassionate culture

The most successful companies will go a step further, and actively highlight that it’s acceptable to grieve and take leave, instilling a sense of trust within women.

Creative businesses often value a positive and collaborative attitude. Support for those affected by miscarriage in the industry should therefore be inflected with an awareness that during loss, people shouldn’t be expected to be their bubbly selves.

A period of time characterised by quietness, and processing the loss is not only not a reflection on someone’s professional approach, it is a normal part of the grieving process.

What more can a compassionate culture do? Well, empathy is crucial. HR and management should be aware of the concerns women will have. “How much should I tell them?”, “Will I get paid?”, “Will it go on my record?”. By answering these questions directly, and providing a normalised framework for dialogue, those concerned can process their emotions — and hopefully return to work faster.

Guest Author

Romanie Thomas, Juggle Jobs

CEO and Founder,

About

Romanie is building a platform that will forever alter the way businesses hire experienced workers. As a successful head-hunter, she understands first-hand how companies can hire and retain senior staff – the answer is flexible, fair, and supportive working arrangements. More critically, during her decade-long career as a senior recruiter, Romanie saw little progress on diversity at the leadership level. Today, less than 10% of business executives are women. Romanie’s vision is to grow this percentage to 50% by 2027, and with the success of Juggle, she is uniquely positioned to do so.

Related Tags

Mental Health Diversity