Your employee could discover this during a routine hospital appointment, or may be told during the pregnancy that there is a problem that means the baby cannot survive. Sometimes, a pregnant woman knows there is a problem and goes to the hospital to have it confirmed. However your employee finds out, it is a devastating experience.
Maternity benefits and stillbirth
If your employee’s baby is stillborn, she will still be entitled to maternity leave as if her baby had been born alive. She will also qualify if her baby was born alive at any point during her pregnancy and subsequently died. Click here to find out more about maternity leave.
If your employee’s baby is stillborn from or after the 24th week of pregnancy, she will still be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if she meets all the qualifying conditions. She will need to give you either a notification for the registration of a stillbirth or a certificate of stillbirth. Click here to find out more about maternity pay.
Supporting your employee
Each individual reacts differently to grief and for some women experiencing stillbirth, grief may be delayed.
Depending on her situation, your employee may decide to return to work shortly after her baby’s death. You can support her by telling her colleagues before she returns so she doesn’t have to answer lots of awkward questions.
Ask her if there’s any way in which you and her colleagues can support her. It’s important to be sensitive to the situation, both in relation to your returning employee and to any currently pregnant employees.
If co-workers are pregnant themselves, your employee may feel uncomfortable. At the same time, an employee who is still pregnant may also feel awkward and be anxious about her own pregnancy. In this instance, you may need to reassure your pregnant employee about her risk assessment and ensure she can discuss any concerns about her pregnancy at work.