Good practice: Emma’s experience

Emma works in HR for a large government organisation. She is also a manager. Her husband works for the same organisation.

She feels confident to support employees who experience miscarriage but feels that more information and training would be useful for her and other managers to provide them with the tools to provide support in these and similar circumstances when they occur.

Emma has been going through IVF and was given flexibility around attending appointments, which she really appreciated and which relieved some of the pressure of going through such treatment.

She was well supported after her miscarriage. Her manager didn’t have any experience of miscarriage but wanted to understand and did some reading about miscarriage which Emma found really supportive and was grateful for. She was asked what she needed and no one made assumptions about what would help.

She was given time off and was under no pressure to return to work before she was ready. She agreed with her manager when they would contact each other, which helped.

On her return, she was given flexibility with her working arrangements and was able to work from home if she was having a difficult day or to avoid a situation (such as a colleague announcing a pregnancy or going on maternity leave) that she might have found upsetting. She was also able to avoid cases that she might struggle with, for example, those involving pregnant colleagues.

Her manager ensured that there was an ongoing conversation so she was able to open up and ask for help or adjustments when she needed them.

Her husband found that whilst there was a willingness and desire by his manager to discuss and provide support, there was nothing specific in place within the workplace to help or signpost male employees or their managers to deal with the effects and impact of miscarriage.

I do believe that saying something is better than nothing – even if you just say, you don’t know what to say, as saying nothing can be perceived that you don’t care. You don’t need to have all of the answers and I don’t think that’s what people would expect. I think it’s about knowing what questions to ask.