How to deal with an employee who has a miscarriage or stillbirth or whose baby dies after birth

Understanding how to deal with an employee who has a miscarriage or stillbirth or whose baby dies after birth can help employers handle a sensitive situation without causing an employee further distress.

Below we set out the key points employers should have in mind when dealing with an employee who has suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth:

  • Check at what stage in the pregnancy a miscarriage or stillbirth occurred, as a different response is required after the pregnancy has reached 24 weeks.
  • Deal with a miscarriage occurring at any time up to 24 weeks of pregnancy under your sickness procedure, but take into account that the employee will be distressed, so exercise leniency with the normal reporting procedures if necessary.
  • Bear in mind that an employee whose partner has suffered a miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy will be entitled to some time off under the statutory right to time off for dependants.
  • Be aware that, where her child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or is born alive but dies after birth, the mother will retain her rights to maternity leave, and to maternity pay if she qualifies for it.
  • Take into account that an employee whose partner has had a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or whose child has died after birth, may be entitled to statutory paternity leave and pay, along with time off for dependants.
  • Show patience and understanding, and don’t be surprised if an employee who has had a stillbirth or whose baby has died indicates that she intends to return early from her maternity leave, but then changes her mind, or returns to work, but then goes off on sickness absence.
  • Ensure the sensitive handling of the return to work of an employee who experienced a stillbirth or the death of her baby.

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