When you experience a traumatic and distressing time in your life, it can be difficult to understand what your legal rights are. Hopefully, this blog helps to explain what rights you have in the workplace, if you experience a miscarriage or a stillbirth, as an employee.
Your Legal Rights at Work
It is reported that for 1 in every 200 pregnancies, in the UK, a miscarriage or stillbirth occurs. The situation can have a devastating impact on you and, understandably, when you are navigating through such a traumatic life event it can be difficult to know how to cope with also managing the expectations of work, or how soon you are ‘expected’ to return to work. However, there are employment law rights which apply and protect you during this time but to what extent depends on whether the pregnancy loss is considered a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Please note, this blog focusses on the legal entitlements to employees and set out what an employee’s statutory entitlements are. It is also important to remember that alongside your statutory entitlements, you may have enhanced benefits at work too, and I would recommend you review any policies your employer may have.
What is the Difference between a Miscarriage and a Stillbirth?
The law states a stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after at least 24 complete weeks of pregnancy. A miscarriage (or late foetal loss) is considered to be when a baby dies before 24 weeks.
Legal Rights: Stillbirth
All your legal rights associated to pregnancy, which includes the right to maternity leave will remain if the baby is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or where the baby was born alive at any stage of pregnancy but then, sadly, passes away. This means your maternity leave would start the day after the birth if it had not yet started. You can choose to either return to work at any time before the end of your maternity leave, or by giving eight weeks’ notice, that you wish to return early. You can also give less notice if your employer agrees but you must not return to work for the first two weeks following the birth.
Both parents, so long as you are employees, will also be entitled to statutory parental leave. There is no minimum length of service, and it entitles you to one week, two continuous weeks, or two separate weeks. It can also be used anytime in the first 56 weeks after the death or stillbirth. The statutory entitlement on pay reflects Statutory Paternity Pay or Shared Parental Pay.
Legal Rights: Miscarriage
The law states that if a miscarriage happens in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, it is not classed as a ‘childbirth’ and therefore the mother and her partner do not have any statutory rights to maternity leave, paternity leave or parental bereavement leave. That said, you do remain protected if you are absent from work, on medical grounds, as it can be treated in the same way as pregnancy-related sickness.
When an employee becomes pregnant, they enter into a ‘protected period’ which lasts until the end of the statutory maternity leave, or in cases considered as a miscarriage, the protected period will end two weeks after the end of the pregnancy. During this time, if an employee is dismissed or if she suffers a detriment, as a result of her pregnancy-related illness, this could be unlawful pursuant to the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations and the Equality Act 2010.
How Can Lincs Law Help You?
If you feel you are being treated unfairly by your employer because you are pregnant, on maternity leave or because you have sadly suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth, please get in touch and we will discuss how we can assist you. You can find out more on your rights by visiting my recent blog on maternity rights here; Pregnancy & Maternity: Know Your Legal Rights – LincsLaw Employment Law Solicitors and by visiting our page here; Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Solicitors – LincsLaw Employment Law Solicitors – In Lincoln
To contact us please call please 01522 440512 or visit our Contact Page; Contact Us – LincsLaw Employment Law Solicitors – Based in Lincoln
Employment Law Solicitor
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