Businesses urged to join pregnancy policy revolution

Small and medium sized businesses in Greater Manchester and Birmingham are being encouraged to sign up for free to a new Tommy’s platform designed to overhaul how they treat employees who are pregnant, struggling to conceive, or lose their baby during pregnancy.

1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK end in loss through miscarriage or other complications. But, sadly, our research and a survey by the CIPD show that many employers don’t know how to navigate the situation. Employees – and employers’ ability to retain staff – suffer as a result.

Our 2021 survey found that:

  • More than half (52%) of working parents have or would quit over a lack of support, but those who feel supported are more likely to stay with greater loyalty and commitment.  
  • 69% of employees felt that their manager wanted to support them – but only 1 in 3 told us that the manager knew how to do it.

1 in 7 couples in the UK may have difficulties conceiving, which can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and mental health, but a 2023 CIPD report found that less than 20% felt quite or very unsupported at work while having fertility challenges.

Earlier this year, we were awarded government funding to roll out our popular corporate e-training and resource package (Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting at Work, or PPAW) to smaller businesses in Greater Manchester and Birmingham, for free, until March 2025.

Over the past 2 years, larger companies such as Santander, BUPA, members of the Virgin group, several NHS trusts and South Staffordshire College have signed up to Tommy’s PPAW.

Now, thanks to the grant from the Department for Health and Social Care’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Fund, Tommy’s can offer Birmingham and Manchester SMEs (typically, companies with fewer than 250 employees) the service at no cost.

Forward Carers, a Birmingham-based carers support service, recently joined the Tommy’s PPAW service for SMEs. The non-profit organisation’s programme manager Anna Smith says:

“At Forward Carers, we know that life doesn't stop the moment you walk through the office door. The things that happen in our personal lives influence our work, and vice versa. So, we believe in creating a culture and providing tools that empower staff to successfully manage life and work.  

“Pregnancy and Parenting at Work training is a natural extension of our commitment to training managers and empowering staff to navigate the highs, and sometimes lows, that can affect any of our lives. We are delighted that we are one of Tommy's first members to sign up to their free Pregnancy and Parenting at Work training.”

Rosie Leverton, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Tommy’s says:  

“Baby loss at any point in the pregnancy journey is utterly devastating. In recent years we have begun to see more people talking about the subject openly – there's a little more understanding. Yet parents still face outdated and unhelpful HR policies and practices.  

“Even when the policies do follow the best practice, often the gap between the implementation and the policy still results in an unsupportive experience for the employee, simply because the manager has no guidance on actually putting it into practice.”    

By signing up to the Tommy’s PPAW programme for SMEs, employers can better support employees going through any stage of growing their family, from fertility, pregnancy and new parenting to complications and baby loss.  

We’re hoping that through the Birmingham and Manchester scheme – which may then be rolled out across the country – some 15,000 people will benefit from more flexible and compassionate workplaces, while employers will also reap the long-term benefits.  

Businesses can also apply to become a Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting Champion through our accreditation scheme – signalling a company’s commitment to change for the better.

Pregnancy and Parenting at Work for SMEs launches on Tuesday 19 September. 

Register your organisation here

Businesses in Manchester and Birmingham should use the codes MANTOM (Manchester) and BIRMTOM (Birmingham) for free registration supported by the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Fund.