Co-op Group brings in new pregnancy-loss support for colleagues

The policy, which includes any affected parent, includes flexible paid leave, time off for medical appointments, and access to wellbeing services

The Co-op Group has launched a dedicated policy to support colleagues through the bereavement and grief of a pregnancy loss.

The Group says the policy – which includes, but is not limited to, miscarriage, stillbirth, embryo transfer loss, molar pregnancy and termination of pregnancy (for any reason) – is part of its drive “to create a truly inclusive workplace and deliver a fairer world for colleagues”.

It supports both parents who have been affected – whether it happens directly to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother, regardless of the nature of their loss, stage of the pregnancy and whatever their length of service or contracted hours.

More than one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage – around a quarter of a million in the UK each year.

Created in partnership with the Miscarriage Association, the policy includes a range of flexible support, including:

  • Flexible paid leave, tailored to best provide support for individual circumstances
  • To help open up conversations in the workplace, the Group is equipping managers with a guide to provide appropriate practical and emotional support to those going through loss. In addition to sharing a range of resources from charities and support groups to help colleagues and their families
  • Paid leave for the partners of those who experience pregnancy loss, as well as colleagues who are intended parents and experience pregnancy loss with a surrogate, to ensure all those affected are supported
  • Time off for medical appointments, access to support and counselling for bereavement and grief through Lifeworks (a wellbeing app for Group colleagues) and also signposting to other organisations at the end of the policy to support specific types of pregnancy loss
  • Access to emergency leave for colleagues if a member of their family suffers a pregnancy loss
  • Access to GP support available to colleagues and their families 24 hours a day through the Group’s Smart Health virtual service, providing psychologist-led mental health support, complex case support, second medical opinions and proactive health guidance

Shirine Khoury-Haq, chief financial officer and CEO of Life Services, said: “Losing a baby at any stage in a pregnancy is a devastating experience.

“The decision to discuss that with your employer is an incredibly difficult and personal one. Having lost our eldest daughter and having suffered several miscarriages myself and with our surrogate I understand just how difficult it is to navigate your personal and professional life during such heartbreak.

“By creating a supportive environment companies can go a long way in easing the stress that people in this situation often feel. I am very proud that the Co-op is recognising and supporting our colleagues at a time when they need it most.”

Caroline Nokes MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “It’s great to see the Co-op’s announcement place particular emphasis on the bereavement and grief of a pregnancy loss, rather than it being characterised as a ‘parental’ issue, this will ensure colleagues get the right level of support at a time when they most need it.

“By increasing understanding, changing attitudes and promoting compassion amongst its colleagues, Co-op is making that step-change needed to break the taboo. I hope more businesses follow suit and rise to the challenge to help both existing and future employees.”

Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, said: “The Miscarriage Association is delighted to support Co-op’s dedicated pregnancy loss policy. It offers both practical and psychological support tailored to the diverse needs of colleagues and its detailed guidance is thoughtful and sensitive. Above all it acknowledges that pregnancy loss at any stage and under any circumstances can be a bereavement like any other.”

To find out more and to access the pregnancy loss policy, visit https://colleagues.coop.co.uk/pregnancy-loss-policy

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