Here at the Co-op we know that pregnancy loss can be a devastating experience whether it happens to you, your partner or the surrogate having your baby. We know that sadly it’s more common than people may think and that the challenges at work are often misunderstood.

If you are reading this because you have been affected, we are sorry for your loss. We want you to know that we understand that for some, pregnancy loss whenever or however it happens is a type of bereavement and that getting the right support at work is crucial. We are committed to giving all affected colleagues the support that they need.

The purpose of this policy is to define what types of pregnancy loss are covered in this and other policies, give you information about what leave you can take and outline what help is available both inside and outside of Co-op.

Crucial bits

What is pregnancy loss?

  • Miscarriage – the spontaneous loss of a pregnancy during the first 24 weeks
  • Stillbirth - the loss of a baby from 24 weeks, during labour or birth
  • Ectopic pregnancy – when a fertilised egg develops outside the womb
  • Molar pregnancy – when an abnormal fertilised egg implants in the uterus
  • Neonatal Loss – the loss of a live-born baby up to 28 days after the birth
  • Embryo transfer Loss – when an embryo transfer during fertility treatment doesn’t result in pregnancy
  • Abortion or termination of pregnancy- a medical or surgical procedure to end a pregnancy

Pregnancy loss from 24 weeks (Stillbirth and Neonatal loss)

The law and your rights are different if you are affected by pregnancy loss from 24 weeks and our Co-op policies are different too.

Just so it’s clear, if you are the pregnant parent and experience a stillbirth or neonatal loss you are entitled maternity benefits and do not need to use this policy. You can read more information here.

All colleagues who experience the loss of a child under 18 (including stillbirth and neonatal loss) are entitled to 4 weeks fully paid leave. This includes all parents including adoptive parents, foster parents and intended parents. We want you to know we have a separate Parental Bereavement Policy that covers this.

Remember that Co-op offers free funeral services for children, and colleagues in Funeralcare can help you. If you’d like more information you can visit your local funeral home, call 0808 239 7868 or see the website.

Time off

All colleagues who have been affected by pregnancy loss (including partners and those affected by loss through fertility treatment from the point of embryo transfer) will be eligible for full paid leave if they are not able to access either Maternity or Parental Bereavement Leave. This includes whether it happens to you, your partner or the surrogate having your baby. There is no limit on the number of times you can take it if you are affected by more than one loss.

We won’t assume to know how much leave you might need as everyone’s situation is different. This Policy isn’t about creating a one-size fits all approach. It’s about highlighting all the different ways that we can support you – so you can decide what works best for you.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked here or how many hours you work; all colleagues are entitled to this leave with full pay. As a guide, we’ll generally give up to 5 days paid leave – but some situations may need more, or less.

It’s important that you contact your manager as soon as possible if you are affected by pregnancy loss, so that we know what’s happening and how we can support you. If you don’t feel like you can speak to your manager remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. You can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854.

We would encourage you to let your manager know so that they can support you during this difficult time and help you return to work, however if you would prefer not to tell anyone please use the Absence Policy instead. Just so you know, any sickness absence that is recorded as pregnancy related does not count towards absence triggers.

If you have been affected as a family member (as a grandparent for example) and need time off to support your loved one, please refer to our Emergency Leave Policy.

Things to think about

Medical Appointments and Support

We encourage you to speak to a GP if you have experienced pregnancy loss. All colleagues and their families can access GP support 24 hours a day through our Smart Health virtual health service.

Smart Health provides virtual health services from 24/7 GP appointments to psychologist-led mental health support, complex case support, second medical opinions, and proactive health guidance. Smart Health is completely confidential and nobody at the Co-op will be provided with access to any information you share. For more information on how to access, visit our Wellbeing Hub.

We know that if you are affected by pregnancy loss you may need time away from work to attend medical appointments or to support your partner and that it may be challenging to arrange appointments around working hours.

We will always agree a reasonable amount of paid time off to attend appointments even if they fall outside of the pregnancy loss leave agreed with your manager. Read our Dental and Medical Appointments policy for more information.

Confidentiality

If you tell your manager about your own experience or your partners pregnancy loss, they’ll keep this confidential and won’t share this information unless you say it’s okay – except if we’ve got serious concerns for your safety or that of others.

Counselling

You can access free, professional and confidential counselling 24 hours a day through Lifeworks. The best way to access this is via the mobile app or if you prefer you can call them on 0800 069 8854. More information about Lifeworks and our EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) can be found at our Wellbeing Hub.

Smart Health also provides virtual GP health services including psychologist-led mental health support. More information can be found at the Wellbeing Hub. Members of your family can also access this support, they don’t have to work for Co-op.

If you would prefer to speak to someone who is specially trained in the kind of pregnancy loss you have experienced, you can contact one of the specialist organisations listed at the end of this policy.

IVF and Fertility

We understand that you may have unique challenges if you experience both pregnancy loss and infertility. We want you to know that this policy still applies if pregnancy loss occurs after you or your partner have had fertility treatment from the point of embryo transfer onwards.

Just so you know we have a separate policy that covers time off for Fertility and IVF Appointments.

Returning to Work

We don’t assume to understand how colleagues affected by pregnancy loss will feel about coming back to work. We know that the experience will affect colleagues differently both emotionally and physically. We do know that for some colleagues the transition back to work may be challenging.

There might be reasonable adjustments we can make at work to help you cope if you find things difficult. These are likely to be temporary changes while you adjust to coming back to work.

Your manager may do a risk assessment to understand more about how your experience might affect you at work and discuss any adjustments you might need. You can also use a Wellbeing Action Plan to identify how your experience has impacted you at work and use this to discuss any changes you might need with your manager. You can read more about Wellbeing Action Plans in our Mental Health Policy.

The reasonable adjustments we can make will depend on your circumstances, but the types of changes that might help could be:

  • Changing your start time if you’re experiencing disturbed sleep
  • Providing more breaks
  • Adjusting start and finish times
  • Adopting Hybrid Working if you have a suitable role. Read more about our policy here
  • Making sure you’ve got easy access to toilet facilities
  • Turning your camera off when on video calls

There’s more information in our Guide to Reasonable Adjustments Your manager might suggest that you speak to our independent Employee Assistance Programme, to get some help and advice. They may encourage you to go to your GP for support if you haven’t already. They might also ask you if you’re happy to be referred to Occupational Health This is so we can get more information about how your experience is likely to affect you at work, and what adjustments we can make to help.

If you need further support

Remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. You can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854. It’s independent and totally confidential. And there’s no charge for Co-op colleagues.

If managers need advice they should contact ER Services.

There are lots of charities and other specialist support groups who offer information and support about pregnancy loss. Here are some that you might find helpful:

  • The Miscarriage Association – an organisation which offers support and information for those affected by miscarriage, ectopic or molar pregnancy as well as signposting for counselling services.
  • Petals – provides specialist support and counselling after pregnancy loss
  • Tommy's - a charity that funds research into pregnancy problems and provides information for parents-to-be.
  • SANDS can offer you support if your baby dies during pregnancy or after birth.
  • ARC a national charity offering parents support through antenatal screening and its consequences, including bereavement.
  • Abortion Talk - a new charity offering people the chance to talk about abortion in a non-judgemental and supportive environment.
  • The Fertility Network – a charity offering resources and support for those affected by fertility issues
  • The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust – supporting people with early pregnancy complications

Managers