Merton will become one of the first councils in the country to give staff bereavement leave after the early loss of a pregnancy.
Merton Council has agreed to give mothers and their partners between five and ten days of paid bereavement leave after a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Currently, mothers who have a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy are entitled to maternity leave, plus two weeks’ bereavement leave. However, parents who lose their child before the 24th week of pregnancy have, up until now had to take sickness leave, annual leave or unpaid leave, as under UK law, there is no obligation for employers to give them bereavement leave.
According to the charity the Miscarriage Association, around one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.
The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “Miscarriage and stillbirth are bereavements and should be recognised as such through dedicated paid leave for mothers and their partners. We are offering all our staff who tragically experience a miscarriage or a stillbirth between five and ten days of paid bereavement leave during this time of physical and emotional pain as they begin to mourn their loss.
“Although many remain hidden, sadly, miscarriages and stillbirths are a lot more common than many of us realise and we need to do more to remove the stigma surrounding them, encourage people to talk openly about their experiences and help grieving parents to get the support they need. Offering paid bereavement leave is a small way we can support our staff through a devastating time in their lives.”
Notes to editors
These charities offer support for anyone affected by miscarriage or stillbirth:
- The Miscarriage Association www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk
- Tommys www.tommys.org
- SANDS www.sands.org.uk
In March, New Zealand became of the first countries in the world to offer bereavement leave for miscarriages and stillbirths and in May, Barking and Dagenham became the first London borough to do so.