Pregnancy loss and termination report - a call to action graphic cover

Pregnancy loss and termination – a call to action

This document is about the experiences of women in the education sector who have experienced pregnancy loss or termination, and the recommendations for government and employers to provide better support and understanding.


The NEU is calling for increased awareness, and greater support around baby loss in schools and colleges. Find out what teachers and support staff told us about their experiences of pregnancy loss in the education sector, and how members can work together to improve conditions at work.


Three-quarters of NEU members are women, many of them of childbearing age. This is why our survey of teacher and support staff members’ experiences of being pregnant, while working in the education sector, is so important.

Many women will experience baby loss or termination/abortion while working, and their employer’s reaction and support are crucial elements to help them cope. Our survey has shown that many women have had to go through this experience alone, feeling unable to tell their employer or colleagues what has happened.

This is often because they fear the reactions they may face, having either experienced poor treatment themselves or seen other women being badly treated by the employer, when facing similar circumstances. Many were unaware of their rights, for example to maternity leave and pay, sick leave or even whether they could leave work to access medical support when needed.

More positively, other women told us of the fantastic support they had received from employers and/ or colleagues, how much this meant to them and how it helped them to cope with an extremely difficult situation.

To highlight the experiences of women in the education sector facing pregnancy loss or termination, the NEU is proud to be working with Maternity Action. Maternity Action is the UK’s maternity rights charity dedicated to promoting, protecting and enhancing the rights of all pregnant women, new mothers and their families to employment, social security and health.

Our aim in this call to action is to raise awareness, end injustice and demand better for working women experiencing baby loss or a termination/abortion.

Let’s support women and parents experiencing baby loss. Let’s value all women at work.

Our recommendations

Government – changes needed

❱ Extend day one rights for workers and agency workers to paid time off to attend antenatal care and to have an individual risk assessment and to maternity suspension if required.

❱ Include miscarriage and termination before 24 weeks in the statutory parental bereavement leave and pay for parents.

❱ Decriminalise abortion in England and Wales.

❱ Ensure that relationships, sex and health education is comprehensive, inclusive and teaches students on their rights to bodily autonomy and access to abortion.

Employers – changes needed

❱ Adopt the NEU Pregnancy loss and termination model policy.

❱ Respect women’s confidentiality – don’t disclose private information without her consent and only when absolutely necessary, eg for health and safety reasons. Discuss with her whether and how she wishes her experience to be communicated to colleagues, students and parents.

❱ Arrange training for all managers on the mental and physical impact of baby loss and how to respond tactfully and sensitively when a woman discloses a pregnancy loss or termination.

❱ Actively encourage women to attend antenatal appointments and to leave work to seek urgent medical advice if they have any concerns about their pregnancy or unborn baby.

❱ Make sure that managers are aware of pregnancy protections and women’s rights to sick leave and maternity leave.

❱ Support women’s return to work and any adjustments that might help such as a phased return on full pay, or temporary change of working hours or duties.

❱ Extend paid bereavement leave to parents experiencing pregnancy loss before 24 weeks.

❱ Ensure that appropriate toilet and washing facilities are available to pregnant women.

❱ Record any sickness absence related to miscarriage, stillbirth or termination separately

from other sick leave so that pregnancy-related sickness absence is not used as a reason for disciplinary action, dismissal or redundancy.

❱ Offer confidential support from an employee assistance programme, including counselling if needed.

❱ Respect the right to bodily autonomy and do not treat a woman less favourably for exercising her rights if she needs to terminate her pregnancy.

Pregnancy loss and termination

An introduction to our resources for members, reps and leaders on pregnancy loss and termination.

Learn more
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