Miscarriages are common, with approximately 1 in 5 pregnancies resulting in miscarriage. Despite its frequency, it doesn’t make the emotional impact of it less heartbreaking. A lack of support from employers can negatively impact an employee’s mental and physical wellbeing and reduce productivity.

What is a miscarriage?

A miscarriage is a pregnancy loss that occurs in the first 23 weeks of pregnancy. It is not always possible to know why a miscarriage happens. Many things can contribute to a miscarriage, like age, pregnancy history, medical conditions and lifestyle factors.

What is the difference between a miscarriage and a stillbirth?

Pregnancy loss between 12 and 24 weeks is referred to as a late miscarriage rather than a stillbirth. Even if the woman gives birth to the baby.

This is because, after 24 weeks, the legal viewpoint is that the baby may have had a chance of survival, so the loss is referred to as a stillbirth.

Your workplace rights after a stillbirth are very different from your rights after a miscarriage.

What to do if a miscarriage happens in the workplace?

Experiencing a miscarriage in the workplace is likely to be a traumatic, upsetting and potentially embarrassing experience. The employee might pretend that they feel fine because they feel unable to discuss what has happened freely.

Employers legally only need to be informed about the pregnancy 15 weeks before the baby is due.

The individual may experience heavy bleeding, pains and cramps and, in some cases, especially with an ectopic pregnancy, may cause the individual to feel faint while miscarrying.

The employee may wish for you to call their partner or a family member to help them. The individual experiencing the miscarriage should seek medical assistance. However, they may not be able to transport themselves to the hospital or their GP.

If the employee is the partner of the individual experiencing the miscarriage. It is important to allow them to leave work immediately to assist their partner and to be involved as much as possible.

Advice of specialist. Sad thoughtful young woman asking when can I go back to work after miscarriage. Discussing employee pregnancy related  rights

When can employees go back to work after a miscarriage?

When an employee decides to return to work after a miscarriage, it will alter for each individual. As an employer, it is vital that employees are not treated unfairly after a period of leave.

Informing the employer will make them aware of a loss and potentially be more understanding and compassionate. Particularly if the employee is struggling to return to work. This is important in the short-term and longer-term, as those suffering a miscarriage may find that grief comes in waves and it may be triggered by a colleague bringing their new baby into work, or someone announcing their pregnancy.

Some women choose to return to work after a few days, others might need longer. To help employees process what has happened, it can be useful to inform them of the miscarriage policy at the company. Making reasonable adjustments, such as reduced hours or phased return to work can help the individual to work through this difficult time.

There is no entitlement to maternity leave or pay after a miscarriage. Flexible working is recommended. Time off maybe classed as pregnancy related sick leave, with a note from the doctor to confirm this.  

An employer may allow compassionate leave, or time off without pay, for those who have experienced a miscarriage. Employees might also use annual leave.

It is advisable to give employees some time to recover emotionally and physically, before returning to work. Processing their emotions is important for their longer-term mental health and wellbeing.

Employees can get support from a GP or a counsellor. A range of organisations, such as The IVFN, The Miscarriage Association, Saying Goodbye and Relate, can also offer support.

Support your employees

Are there any laws protecting employees after experiencing a miscarriage?

Whilst there is no specific law currently that entitles employees to leave for miscarriages, The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination and unfair dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy related sickness.

For employees who are not entitled to maternity or paternity leave, there is a two week protected period to prevent discrimination for miscarriage related sick leave. If during this sickness absence they experience pregnancy discrimination, they will need to show the HR department that they have been treated less favourably than a man who has taken sick leave.

Sick leave related to pregnancy or miscarriage must be recorded separately by an employer and cannot be used as a trigger for disciplinary or redundancy purposes.

Maternity or paternity leave

A pregnancy loss that occurs before the end of the 24th week of pregnancy is considered a miscarriage, and employees are not entitled to maternity or paternity leave.

However, they may need time off and can request compassionate leave, annual leave or come to an agreement to an agreement to take unpaid leave, dependent on the workplace policy.

If a stillbirth or pregnancy after the 24th week occurs, an employee is entitled to statutory maternity leave and pay.

Miscarriage policy

Some employers have a miscarriage policy in place. A miscarriage policy can include information about time off after a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.

This policy outlines any pregnancy related leave, pregnancy related sick pay and assists both sides against unfair treatment related to miscarriage.

If your company needs help creating fertility related policies and procedures The IVF Networks team of HR professionals and fertility experts are on hand to help.

Create a policy

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How can a miscarriage affect employees?

Miscarriage affects everyone differently. There are many reasons for these differences, including how early the miscarriage occurs, any pre-existing physical or mental health conditions, the number of previous miscarriages suffered, close friends or family members having babies around the same time and whether the pregnancy was as a result of IUI or IVF treatment.

Many people who have miscarried after fertility treatment, may know, due to their age or financial constraints, that trying again is not an option and that the pregnancy was their last chance of having a baby genetically related to them. In this case, the grief is not just connected with the loss of the child, but there is a wider feeling of loss involved.

Employees may not want to be social and may appear more emotional, others may find it difficult to concentrate or find it hard to be motivated. The stress of the situation may result in difficulty sleeping and may affect an employees mental health.

How can employers support employees?

It is important for employers, line managers and team leaders to be informed of what a miscarriage is. Having an understanding of the support they are able to provide, as outlined by the company, is necessary before they are able to support their team.


It is important to remember that regardless of the stage at which the miscarriage occurs, it is a loss of a baby. It is important to acknowledge this loss and express your sympathies.

Policies and procedures

Having policies and procedures in place can help managers know the right steps to take. They can also be used by employees to understand what the company’s process is without having to have any difficult or unwanted conversations. Employees should be able to access information on the ways the business can support them, so the policies should be easily accessible.


Be respectful of the employees wishes, they might not want to tell their colleagues and to keep this information confidential. It is important for employers to be informed of what a miscarriage is before they are able to support their team.


‍‍Education is the key to supporting both employees and employers. To increase awareness of fertility issues and how they affect businesses, The IVFN helps companies create or improve their fertility policies. We also support businesses with their implementation, offering workshops for line managers and employees, to increase their understanding of the impact of fertility issues and treatments.

How can The IVFN help?

Here at The IVF Network, we understand how traumatic miscarriage can be for anyone going through it. We also understand that miscarriage after IVF may feel even more devastating. After experiencing the emotionally and physically challenging process of IVF, being given the hope of a positive pregnancy test and then having to deal with the grief and loss.

We support equality for everyone going through fertility issues and treatment. We keep up-to-date with medical developments and social changes, the new laws and the support available. We provide a wide range of information, in an easy-to-access format, through our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make informed choices at every stage of the fertility journey.

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