Thank you for contacting me about statutory bereavement leave for parents experiencing baby loss before the 24th week of pregnancy.
I agree that this is a very important issue and will be of deep concern to many people in our area. Miscarriages are much more common than most people realise. Among women who know they are pregnant, it is estimated that about one in eight pregnancies will miscarry, while for all pregnancies, it is estimated that the figure could be as high as one in five. The baby loss charity Tommy’s reports that there are an estimated 250,000 miscarriages every year in the UK. And their impacts are not only physical, but also psychological. Recent research by the National Centre for Miscarriage Research has found that miscarriages increase the risk of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
I therefore appreciate the calls for statutory bereavement leave to be extended to those losing a child before 24 weeks of pregnancy. In response to such calls, the Government has highlighted the existing right to statutory bereavement leave and pay for those losing a child or suffering a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. It says this right is “mapped against the clinical definition of a ‘stillbirth'” with 24 weeks being “a legally and medically important point in a pregnancy as it is the clinical age of viability”. It also says the existing entitlement is “a floor, not a ceiling” and that it hopes it will lead to better support for all employees experiencing bereavement.
However, to lose a child is an appalling tragedy, at no matter what stage it happens. No parent should then have to suffer further due to a lack of sympathy and support from their employer. I believe statutory bereavement leave should be available to parents experiencing miscarriage so that they too can have time off to grieve and am more than happy to support this campaign.