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 to identify any hazards that may affect your employee. Regular monitoring of her working conditions throughout her pregnancy will also help reduce stress, which has been linked to an increased incidence of miscarriage.
Maternity benefits and miscarriage
If your employee’s pregnancy ends in a miscarriage, she will not be entitled to maternity leave or maternity pay.
Miscarriage and sick leave
Your employee is likely to need several days off work following a miscarriage at the very least. Depending on her stage of pregnancy and her individual circumstances, this may be longer.
Pregnancy-related sickness absence should be recorded separately from other illnesses. You should not count pregnancy-related sick leave towards your employee’s total sickness record, or use it as a reason for redundancy or disciplinary action. Treat sick leave due to a miscarriage as a pregnancy-related illness.
Supporting your employee
A miscarriage is likely to be extremely distressing for your employee. Ask her if there’s any way in which you and her colleagues can support her.
It may help her if you tell her colleagues before she returns to work so she doesn’t have to answer awkward questions, but ask her first whether this is what she wants.
The Miscarriage Association points out that a woman who miscarries at work will be distressed, frightened and embarrassed. If this happens to your employee you can support her by giving her privacy and arranging help for her to get home or an ambulance to take her to hospital if necessary.