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Employers and managers: information and support

An estimated one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. A smaller but significant number will be ectopic or molar pregnancies.  Some people will experience multiple losses. Most workforces will have employees who have been affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.

Women and their partners don’t always feel able to talk about it. This means that it’s often ignored in management literature and training.

Miscarriage* affects women and their partners in different ways. For many people, it is the loss of a baby, however early it happens. Thoughtful support and management can make a real difference to how people cope – and can enhance an employee’s motivation and commitment [1]. A lack of support can mean reduced productivity, lower standards of work, increased absence and even resignation.

Faye talks about her experience and the support she would have liked from her employer.

 

We know it isn’t always easy to offer support. You may be unsure of policy or find it brings back memories of your own loss or losses. You may simply not think miscarriage is something to get upset about. We hope this information helps.

You may wish to share it with your own manager or senior managers so they understand more about the decisions you are making and why.

 

* We often use the term ‘miscarriage’ to include miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancy. If a baby is stillborn after 24 weeks gestation, the law and an employee’s rights are very different. Maternity Action has more information. All our information covers UK law and practices only.

[1] B Hayward, B Fong, A Thornton, BMRB Social Research. The third work-life balance employer survey: main findings, Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, December 2007

We also have more information here:

Supporting an employee before, during and after a miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy
Talking about miscarriage in the workplace – a guide for managers

 

Understanding miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancies

Miscarriage is the loss of a baby any time up to 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy (before 24 weeks). It’s most likely to happen in the first 12 weeks, often before a woman has announced that she is pregnant. It may start to happen naturally and with no warning or she may find out her baby has died at a routine antenatal appointment. She may need to be treated in hospital or go through the process at home. During the coronavirus pandemic, there are fewer non-emergency surgical procedures available so she is likely to have to go through the process at home. This may not be what she would have chosen and could be more distressing for her.

It is likely to take some time for her to recover physically and emotionally.

Lack of experience can make managers feel like they don’t know what to say. My manager, while supportive, had no knowledge of miscarriage and what was involved

It can help to find out a bit more about the physical and emotional impact of miscarriage, ectopic and molar pregnancy. Our leaflet Supporting someone you know has a good summary of the feelings and experiences someone might have after pregnancy loss. Don’t be afraid to admit a lack of knowledge and ask them what they need.

You can also read more detailed information on our website:

When we talked one day [my manager] made it clear she had done some reading on miscarriage which I really appreciated and I found really supportive.

 

How might a miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy affect an employee at work?

Miscarriage affects people in different ways, but they may be:

These feelings may affect their productivity or ability to manage in a work environment. Good communication will help you ensure the right support is put in place to help your employee manage their work alongside their recovery.

[I] was still thinking about my miscarriages and at times I found it difficult to concentrate and felt like I was ‘drowning’ trying to maintain a normal life again.