All City Hearts staff who experience pregnancy loss, will now have access to trained support staff and paid time off, thanks to a new company policy.
After reading about the Miscarriage Association’s Pregnancy Loss Pledge, which asks organisations to create specific policies to support staff experiencing miscarriage, City Hearts signed the pledge, and wrote a new policy that ensures all staff have access to the support they need if they go through pregnancy loss.
Whilst City Hearts always offered discretionary time off and emotional support to staff going through it, there was no clarity or general awareness of what they could ask for.
Now, thanks to the policy, which was implemented last year, anyone experiencing pregnancy loss, and their partners, have clear guidance about what support is available to them. This includes an optional two weeks paid leave, an option of a phased return to work and altered duties, and access to a trained pregnancy loss ‘point of contact,’ who they can discuss any issues with.
Amy Bond, Head of People and Culture at City Hearts, said: “There is currently no legislation or government guidance around what employees in the UK are entitled to following a pregnancy loss.
“More than 50% of our staff at City Hearts are female and of child bearing age, and in the six years I’ve been here, I’ve sadly worked alongside a significant number of staff who have experienced pregnancy loss. We always supported them, and made time available to them, but we didn’t really have any clarity around what was available to staff going through it.
“So by implementing our Pregnancy Loss Policy, which includes any kind of pregnancy loss at any stage, I wanted to make it really clear that we recognise that many staff need space and time to grieve or process their loss.”
Since the policy was put in place in September, the amount of time taken off by staff experiencing pregnancy loss, has increased, which Amy believes is a positive sign that the policy is working.
“I know from experience that when you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, it can feel impossible to focus on anything else,” she said.
“I experienced miscarriage a few years ago while I was working for City Hearts,” she added.
“I’m really fortunate that I had a line manager that I could talk to, and be honest with about it, and who gave me all the time off I needed to deal with it, in a way that was right for me.
“But I recognise that as we’ve got bigger, we’ve taken on lots of new staff that might not feel as comfortable talking to their boss about something so personal, so this pledge is a way of starting a dialogue, and making it very clear what people are entitled to as employees of City Hearts.”
“In the charity sector, people work exceptionally hard for the needs of other people. That’s the nature of the work, you’re supporting other people in a time when they need it most. But when someone goes through pregnancy loss, that’s the time when they need support most.
“Our staff are largely in support roles, where they have to be wholly attentive to the needs of other people going through some really challenging circumstances. So when they go through pregnancy loss, it’s essential that they get the option to put their own needs first, and know that they have the backing of their organisation to do so, and won’t be financially impacted by something that is completely out of their control.
“What this policy does is put some control back in that staff member’s hands. They don’t have to take time off, but it’s there if they want it. And control is one of the most important things for people experiencing pregnancy loss, because that’s what’s been taken away from you, and that’s the feeling of helplessness that you have.
“By putting our name to the pledge, we’re saying ‘this is not just a helpful staff benefit, this is a dignity thing, it’s a welfare thing,’ and it should really be mandatory for all employers as a basic requirement.”