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Employee Benefits

Rethinking Leave Around Pregnancy Loss

October 13, 2022

Approximately 1 in 5 expecting mothers will face a miscarriage, which equates to roughly 1 million people experiencing pregnancy loss in the U.S. every year. Miscarriage and stillbirth describe the loss of a pregnancy, but they differ according to when the loss occurs. Both types of loss have been shown to cause severe feelings of suffering and grief for the parents. In some cases, even physical detriment to the mother.

Losing a pregnancy can take a huge emotional and physical toll. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 29 percent of people who experienced early pregnancy loss showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder; 24 percent demonstrated moderate to severe anxiety, and 11 percent showed signs of mild to severe depression at one month following the event (2019).

Although pregnancy loss satisfies Merriam-Webster’s definition of death and bereavement, the inclusion of pregnancy loss provisions as part of most companies’ bereavement or parental leave policies is atypical. Only 8.7% of U.S. organizations surveyed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans reported offering paid leave related to miscarriages, while 13.2% offer unpaid leave pertaining to miscarriage or pregnancy loss (2020).

Over the past two years, states have been making legislative changes, such as paid family leaves, to help employees support their families better. According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, 14 states have laws mandating paid sick leave for medical needs. The state laws can apply to employees dealing with pregnancy loss and mental and physical health issues. Employers have also enhanced their benefits by increasing time off allotments and expanding policies, fostering more inclusive workplaces. Although updating bereavement leave eligibility requirements to include pregnancy loss hasn’t had the same traction, a few large companies have been trying to blaze the trail.

Notably, Pinterest began offering four weeks of paid leave to employees “who experience a loss through a miscarriage at any point in the pregnancy” in December 2021. Employers who want to enhance the support they offer their employees experiencing a pregnancy loss should consider updating company bereavement policies. Or they can do like worldwide law firm Mintz did in January 2022 and create a separate policy called “compassionate leave,” which grants its employees paid leave following a natural miscarriage, adoptive miscarriage, failed surrogacy, or failed fertility treatment.

For suggestions on how to enhance your leave policies, contact your Hylant representative.

Authored by

Joy Sanders

Joy Sanders

Absence & Leave Management Practice Leader

Joy brings 10 years of experience of working in the human resources field. Joy uses a consultative approach to understand current business processes, challenges, wants and needs. Focusing on market research and trends, she is determined to seek out vendors/carriers with enhanced technical capabilities, superior client service and an integrated solution offering.

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