67% of people who completed our Pregnancy and Parenting at Work survey this May felt their manager did want to support them during a miscarriage, stillbirth or losing their baby shortly after birth. But 69% said their manager did not actually know what to do to provide that support.
Lots of people said that their colleagues or managers expressed kindness, but others were met with silence or a lack of sympathy.
“My manager didn't respect my privacy and had told everyone I was pregnant without my permission,” one person said. “When I was hospitalised with a really traumatic miscarriage, when I did come back to work she didn't ask how I was.”
Alongside our own efforts to open discussion and guide people to support someone through loss, encouraging steps forward have been made by organisations like Channel 4, who last year introduced a formal pregnancy loss policy for employees.
Yet the percentage of people saying their manager did not know how to support them remains roughly the same in our 2022 survey as it was in 2021 – suggesting polices alone are not enough and much more needs to be done to train managers, end stigma, and change workplace culture.
Just 10% of our survey respondents answered ‘yes’ when asked whether their employer has a miscarriage and baby loss policy, either on its own or within an existing policy. 63% said no, and more than a quarter did not know.
In the UK, 1 in 4 UK pregnancies ends in loss. Parents can take maternity or paternity leave if this happens after 24 weeks of pregnancy, but even early losses can take weeks to physically recover from, and any loss can have a lifelong psychological impact.
Despite affecting so many people on such a deep level, few workplaces currently have support in place for employees who lose babies, which can leave managers and colleagues unsure how to help when it happens.
57% said they have, or would, consider leaving a job or not returning from maternity/paternity leave due to lack of support during their infertility, pregnancy, loss, or parenting journey – a finding in line with prior research which found that 60% of professional women leave their organisation within a year of returning to the workplace after maternity leave.
51% said that in their experience of pregnancy and parenting they did not have the workplace support they needed overall.