Time Off Work for Miscarriage – Workplace Rights UK

If you’ve suffered a pregnancy loss, it is an incredibly distressing time and you will need time to recover. Our guide looks at your rights to time off work for a miscarriage and sick pay entitlements. We’ll also outline the protections given by employment law relating to pregnancy.

Telling Your Employer

Many women will be concerned about letting their employer know they have suffered a miscarriage. You may be worried about facing discrimination if your workplace finds out that you are planning to have a baby.

If you do choose to tell your employer, there are rights and support which should be made available to you.

Taking Time Off After Miscarriage

Time off taken for a miscarriage should be recorded as pregnancy related sickness. As pregnancy is considered a protected characteristic, you should not be treated less favourably as a result of your pregnancy loss.

This means time off work for miscarriage cannot be used as a reason for a disciplinary, redundancy, or refusal of promotion.

If you decide you don’t feel able to let your employer know about your miscarriage, any time off you need to take will be recorded as ordinary sick leave. This means you will not have the same workplace protections as for a pregnancy related absence.

Sick Notes for Miscarriage

For the first 7 days you will be able to self certify your pregnancy related sickness.

After 7 days you will need your GP to provide a sick note for your miscarriage, confirming the reason for sick leave is pregnancy related.

If your pregnancy had not yet been recorded with your GP, they should still be able to help with a sick note. Taking any evidence of your pregnancy with you should help. This could include positive pregnancy tests, or perhaps a cycle tracker on your phone where you have recorded your dates.

How Much Time Can You Take Off After Miscarriage?

After a miscarriage, you can take as much time off as you need to recover.

Some employers mistakenly believe that you can only take two weeks of pregnancy related sickness after a loss. However, this is incorrect.  You can take as much time off as is needed, and the entire period should be classed as pregnancy related sick leave.

This means all of the time off is protected under the Equality Act.  If you feel your employer is trying to disadvantage you in this situation, you should contact ACAS who will be able to advise you of your rights.

Your Right to Sick Pay

The amount of sick pay you are entitled to get will depend upon your work contract. If your company does not offer sick leave at full pay, you will only be entitled to SSP (Statutory Sick Pay).

If you’re on a zero hour contract, you are still entitled to sick pay. Our guide to zero hour contract sick pay explains how it should be calculated.

Returning to Work After Your Loss

Returning to work after a pregnancy loss is an understandably difficult time. If you are struggling, a phased return to work might help.

A phased return to work means you may work different or reduced hours, or be doing a different range of tasks than normal. Whilst you don’t have an automatic right to a phased return to work,  you should be able to request it.

Check your workplace sickness policies to see what your employer normally offers.  If no policy exists you should be treated similarly to other staff who have returned to work after sick leave. So if other employees have been offered phased returns to work in the past, you should be offered the same.

Your GP may recommend a phased return to work in your fit note.

Alternatively, you could request flexible working to help ease you back into the workplace. For example, requesting some flexibility to work from home might help your transition.

Confidentiality at Work After Miscarriage

You have the right to medical confidentiality in the workplace. This means that there is no need for your workmates to know the reason for your absence was a miscarriage.

Your manager should talk with you and find out how much you wish your work colleagues to know.  Some people find the support of their colleagues helpful, whilst others prefer to keep their miscarriage private.

Time Off if Your Partner has had a Miscarriage

Unfortunately, if your partner has had a miscarriage there is no automatic right to time off work. However, your employer may consider giving compassionate leave to help you through the difficult period after a loss.

Stillbirth After 24 Weeks

If you lose your baby after 24 weeks of pregnancy, you have the right to up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Your partner will be entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave. In addition to this, you will both be entitled to 2 weeks bereavement leave.

This leave can be taken after maternity / paternity leave, providing extra time to get over your loss.

Further Reading

If you need additional support, contact the Miscarriage Association. Their site has a lot of helpful information and they provide a helpline.

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