A miscarriage is the loss of a baby from the date of a missed period up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. If this happens in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it is generally described as an ‘early miscarriage’. After this, it would be called a ‘late miscarriage’.
Miscarriage, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy, is not uncommon and it is still not known why all early miscarriages occur. However, there are some factors that can increase the risk of miscarriage, including hazards in the workplace.
Your risk assessment will help your employer identify any hazards that may affect you. Stress has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and regular monitoring of your working conditions throughout your pregnancy will help reduce your stress levels at work.
Maternity benefits and miscarriage
If your pregnancy ends in a miscarriage (before the 24th week of pregnancy), you will not be entitled to maternity leave or maternity pay.
Miscarriage and sick leave
You are likely to need several days off work following a miscarriage at the very least. Depending on your stage of pregnancy and your individual circumstances, this may be longer.
Although you won’t be entitled to any specific time off, your GP may sign you off sick for a while and you may be able to take annual leave or compassionate leave, depending on what your employment contract allows.
Although you won’t benefit from maternity leave and pay, you are protected from detrimental treatment due to your miscarriage.
Pregnancy-related sickness absence should be recorded separately from other illnesses. Any pregnancy-related sick leave should not count towards your total sickness record, or be used as a reason for redundancy or disciplinary action. Sick leave due to a miscarriage should always be treated as a pregnancy-related illness.
Getting the support you need
Having a miscarriage can be an extremely distressing experience and you need time and support as you come to terms with your loss.
You may feel you want people to know about your miscarriage, or you may not. It’s up to you. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, you may not have told your colleagues yet, but if you need to take time off sick, you’ll need to tell your employer the reason.
If you would prefer people to know but don’t want to deal with awkward questions on your return, have a quiet word with your employer and ask them to tell others in your workplace.
You may find it difficult to be around colleagues who are pregnant or who have babies or young children. There will be painful reminders of your loss but rest assured that, in time, the pain will feel less acute.
If you need someone to talk to apart from your partner, family and friends, you can phone the Tommy’s PregnancyLine on 0800 0147 800 or contact one of the organisations listed here.