Miscarriage and your rights at work

More and more workplaces are recognising that people need time off and support after a miscarriage. But more can and should be done.

This page gives you more information on your rights at work as a woman or birthing person who has experience a miscarriage. If you are a partner, you may find it helpful to look at our page on support for partners which has some information for you.

Employers looking for more information may find this page helpful too.

On this page

Time off work after a miscarriage

Discrimination after a miscarriage

Coping with work after a miscarriage

Getting more support

Time off work after a miscarriage

You may want to return to work quickly, or you may need time off to recover physically and emotionally. You may return to work and then realise you need more time.

Some organisations will have specific miscarriage policies in place. These may offer time off after a miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy, often on full pay. Ask your manager or HR if you have a policy and what it says.

If your organisation does not have a policy, you are still entitled to take sick leave as normal.

Any leave you take after a miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy should be recorded as ‘pregnancy-related leave’. 

You will need a fit note (sometimes called a sick note or doctor’s note) from a doctor to say it is ‘pregnancy-related’. This could be your GP or a doctor at the hospital where you were treated. 

If you go back to work and then realise you need more time off, you will need to get another fit note. 

Your employer must record this leave separately and must not use it against you, for example, for disciplinary or redundancy purposes. You are entitled to any sick pay that you would normally qualify for when off sick. You can take as long as you need, as long as you have a note from a doctor – and you can afford to.

If you do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to claim Employment Support Allowance instead.

More and more workplaces are recognising the importance of support after miscarriage. If you feel unable to tell your employer that you have had a miscarriage, your leave will not be recorded as pregnancy related. You could consider taking annual leave instead.

The Miscarriage Leave Bill

The Miscarriage Leave Bill is going through parliament at the moment. It would give employees who experience a miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy, 3 days statutory paid leave. This would be a good starting point, but Tommy’s knows many people will need more than three days off work.

You can read more about the bill here.

Discrimination after a miscarriage

The Equality Act 2010 protects women against discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy or pregnancy-related sickness. It covers a period of 2 weeks from the end of a pregnancy for women who are not entitled to maternity leave. 

The Equality Act protects you during this period from being discriminated against for any sick leave you take because of a miscarriage. 

If you are discriminated against after this period, you can make a claim for sex discrimination. You will need to show that you have been treated less favourably than a man who has taken sick leave. 

You should be protected against unfair treatment related to pregnancy throughout your employment, not just for a restricted period. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly because of your miscarriage or any sick leave you have taken, you should get advice as soon as possible. You can find more information on the Maternity Action website.  

Coping with work after a miscarriage

Give yourself time 

Give yourself time to adjust to being back at work. You may be feeling tired, exhausted and struggling to concentrate. All of these are feelings are normal.

You may feel a range of emotions after your miscarriage such as anger, sadness, guilt and frustration. Often, they are part of the process of grieving your loss. You can read more about feelings after a miscarriage here.

Grief can come and go from day to day. You may feel fine one morning and very emotional the next. Try and take time out when this happens and speak to your manager or HR department about anything that could help protect your wellbeing.  

Ask for adjustments

You may find it helpful to ask for a phased return after miscarriage leave, or a change of duties for a while. Some people find it easier to work at home for a while so they can better manage the physical and emotional effects of a loss.

Try to identify any possible triggers that may affect you at work, for example if a colleague visits during their maternity leave, or you are working with someone who is pregnant.

There may be things you can do to protect yourself from these situations or ways you can prepare, so you find them easier to manage.  

Managing colleagues' reactions

It is natural be anxious about talking to your colleagues about what has happened. You may not feel able to answer questions or tell people yourself. If you prefer, you could ask your manager or HR department to tell people for you.

They may like to share our page on supporting someone after a miscarriage.

“When I went back to work, one of the hardest things (which I hadn’t expected) was dealing with people who didn’t know and thought I had been sick. They were kindly asking if I was feeling better and saying they were happy I was back, while I just felt sad that I had been off in the first place. I wish I’d asked my boss to tell people what really happened before I came back.” 

Joanne 

Unfortunately, other people’s reactions to the news that you have lost your baby may not always be helpful. It can be difficult to understand how it feels to lose a baby if you have never had a miscarriage. Even if someone has lost a baby in the past, they may have reacted or coped differently. 

It may help to talk to someone at work that you trust. Some workplaces have peer supporters or wellbeing representatives who may be able to listen and offer support.  If this isn’t possible or you don’t feel comfortable, focus on the people who can best support you outside of work. This may be your partner (if you have one), a family member or friend. 

Share more information

There are lots of ways workplaces can support women and birthing people who have a miscarriage. You might find it helpful to share the Miscarriage Association’s Workplace Hub with your manager or employer. It includes free detailed information for employers and HR as well as for employees. It has policy templates, good practice case studies and a Pregnancy Loss Pledge that organisations can sign to show their commitment.

Tommy’s Pregnancy & Parenting at Work includes training offers for workplaces around pregnancy loss, among other things.

Getting more support 

If you feel you are not coping, no matter how long after the miscarriage, ask for help. You may need more support such as professional counselling. Some workplaces provide a free, confidential counselling service.  

You can also talk to a Tommy’s midwife free of charge from 9am–5pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 0147 800 or you can email them at [email protected]. Our midwives are trained in bereavement support. 

There are also lots of organisations that can provide more advice and support about miscarriage. 

Find out more about organisations that can support you after a miscarriage.

Maternity Action (2023) Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death – rights to time off and pay. Available at https://maternityaction.org.uk/advice/miscarriage-stillbirth-and-neonatal-death-rights-to-time-off-and-pay-for-parents/ (Accessed 24 January 2024) (Page last reviewed: 02/23)

UK Parliament (2022) Miscarriage leave bill. Available at: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2948  (Accessed 24 January 2024) (Page last reviewed: 04/05/2022)
 

Review dates
Reviewed: 15 February 2024
Next review: 15 February 2027