Monzo and Sanctus join Channel 4 in launching pregnancy loss policies.
A growing number of employers are launching pregnancy loss policies in the wake of Channel 4’s announcement last month of what it said was the UK’s first such policy in the UK.
Digital bank Monzo has become the first UK bank to offer paid leave for employees who are affected by the loss of a pregnancy. Monzo’s policy will give either partner up to 10 extra days of paid leave if they lose a baby due to abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth, regardless of when in the pregnancy it happens. The policy includes partners and surrogate mothers. Another new policy covers employees undergoing fertility treatments, diagnosis or consultations. They will have up to eight days of additional paid fully flexible fertility leave per year which can be used, for instance, for taking time to rest after a procedure, recovery from the emotional effects of treatments or to attend outpatient appointments and scans. Monzo also has an employee support group for colleagues going through similar journeys.
Another company, Sanctus, a provider of mental health coaching in the workplace, has also announced that it is introducing a pregnancy loss policy to support team members of all genders with up to two weeks paid leave, paid leave for further medical appointments, flexible working arrangements to support a return to work after pregnancy loss, individual support from its People Team and Sanctus mental health coaching support. This will be for a loss at any stage of the pregnancy, and for both partners, regardless of gender.
Kelly Harris, People and Legal Director, said: “Although one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, organisations that offer dedicated pregnancy loss policies are still few and far between. Whilst pregnancy loss policies aren’t statutory in the UK, mental health is at the heart of our organisation and we want to ensure we support our team adequately at all times.
“We were encouraged to see the reaction to recent Lancet [which covered the long-term psychological consequences of pregnancy loss] and hope that this will encourage all employers to review how they support pregnancy loss. I have myself experienced the loss of two children in circumstances where I didn’t feel I could raise this with my employer, and like many people, suffered the physical and mental health impact of miscarriage in silence which, as a People leader, is something I’d like to ensure others never have to do.”
As Sanctus’ work is focused on supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing, particularly in the workplace, the company says its new policy reflects its mission “to normalise the conversation around mental health in the workplace and to ensure employees are adequately supported at all times”.
Harris says Sanctus wholeheartedly backs calls for a complete overhaul around both the narrative and the support provided during miscarriage and pregnancy loss. She states: “For far too long women and their partners have had to suffer in silence, without appropriate acknowledgement of the severe physical and emotional impact of miscarriage and other forms of pregnancy loss. The psychological consequences of pregnancy loss are serious and include increases in the risk of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicide. We cannot continue to ignore this.”
Sanctus coach Rebecca Armstrong has some advice for dealing with pregnancy loss, based on personal experience of miscarriage.
For those affected, she says it is important to acknowledge loss and that there is no right or wrong way to feel after a miscarriage. Emotions can include anger, grief, confusion, shock, sadness, failure, isolation, uselessness, jealousy or anger at those who have children. She says it is important to grieve properly and to think about how you want to honour the experience, for instance, through creating memory boxes. Miscarriage has been linked to a form of PTSD, while for others it can surface as depression, anxiety or panic attacks. Therefore professional help in the form of therapy may be needed, she says.
She adds that some partners may try to take on the role of protecting the one who has suffered the miscarriage, putting their own needs and feelings to one side. It’s important that they too take the time that they need to grieve and communicate with their partner as openly as possible. It’s also important that partners reassure each other that neither of them is to blame and that they seek professional relationship guidance if necessary.
For employers, Rebecca suggests the following ways of supporting employees:
And Rebecca advises a review compassionate leave and pregnancy loss policies, including looking at whether there is a specific policy covering pregnancy loss and whether employers have Employee Insurance or an Employee Assistance Programme, offering coaching, building in additional support or time off to grieve, for medical appointments and supporting employees on their return to work when they feel ready to do so.