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Pregnancy loss and termination - checklist for leaders

This document provides a checklist and resources for school and college leaders to support teachers and support staff who experience pregnancy loss or baby loss.


What can you do?

Be safe

❱ Use our Supporting pregnant women at work checklist for leaders and Pregnant women at work risk assessment1 to make sure that your workplace is safe for pregnant leaders, teachers and support staff.

❱ Make sure that pregnant women have access to private, clean, safe rest and toilet facilities.

Be prepared

❱ Be aware that a woman could experience an ectopic or molar pregnancy or a miscarriage while she is at work.

❱ Note that you might not be aware that a woman was expecting before she tells you that her pregnancy has ended as she is not obliged to inform her employer that she is pregnant until 15 weeks before her expected due date.

❱ Let your staff know that you and your leadership team will support women and parents at work who experience pregnancy loss. The Miscarriage Association has produced some excellent guidance on pregnancy loss for employers and managers2.

❱ Make sure that there are facilities and processes in place to protect the safety and dignity of women and parents who experience a pregnancy loss.

❱ Note the difference in statutory rights to leave and pay for women and parents experiencing a pregnancy loss before and after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

❱ Display the NEU pregnancy loss poster in your workplace.

❱ Read the NEU pregnancy loss and termination model policy.

❱ Share the model with your SLT and discuss the benefits of having such a policy in place: improved awareness of the impact of baby loss; clarity on leave and pay entitlements; reassurance and improved wellbeing.

❱ Adjust the policy to suit your education setting through negotiation; for guidance, use the process set out in the trade union recognition agreement, if you have one or discuss this with your NEU rep if you don’t.

❱ Insert the school/college name in the policy and make sure it is included in the employee handbook or equivalent.

❱ Adopt processes in line with the policy to make sure that women and parents who experience baby loss can secure their rights to:

  • appropriate time off
  • privacy
  • safe and fair working arrangements
  • compassionate return to work arrangements

In an emergency

❱ A pregnancy loss could happen at work. The Miscarriage Association warns that a woman who suspects that she has started to lose her baby at work may have bleeding, severe abdominal pain, and may be faint or collapse. She may be very distressed and panicked, embarrassed and frightened. You can help by ensuring that she has very quick access to a toilet, and you may need to help her by calling her preferred contact or colleague to assist her in getting home or to hospital or a first aid room. In severe cases you may need to call an ambulance.

❱ If a woman’s partner, relative or close friend is told of a pregnancy loss while at work, they may need to leave at short notice to provide practical and emotional support.

When a woman discloses a pregnancy loss to you

❱ Listen, acknowledge her loss and show compassion and understanding.

❱ Recognise that she might not know immediately what she needs but you can outline what

support is available and suggest an appropriate time to talk.

❱ Try to replicate the terminology she uses, for example refer to a woman’s ‘baby loss’ rather than ‘pregnancy loss’ if that is the language that she prefers to use. Be aware that a woman who has lost a baby by stillbirth or neonatal loss might prefer to refer to her time off as ‘leave’ rather than ‘maternity leave’.

❱ Seek out expert guidance if you are not familiar with your colleague’s condition. The Miscarriage Association guidance3 is invaluable.

❱ Share relevant workplace policies and procedures, schedule in a meeting to discuss and agree a support plan with her.

❱ Ask her what, if anything, she would prefer other colleagues, students and parents to know. Some women seek out the support of colleagues; others prefer not to share this deeply personal information. Respect her privacy. If she prefers to share her sad news, particularly if it was well known that she was pregnant, you could offer to write a message to inform other staff, students and parents.

❱ Reassure her of her rights at work and support her in taking the time off she needs to recover from her experience, in line with your workplace policies and procedures. Alert her to any additional support offered by your employer, such as counselling.

❱ Be aware that many Black and Asian women, as well as women from Muslim communities and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities  will not be receiving appropriate individualised or culturally sensitive maternity care outside of work. This can impact on their physical and mental health at work. You can offer appropriate support and ask about what workplace procedures might need adjustment to ensure that all women who have experienced baby loss feel supported and valued in their workplace.

❱ Look after yourself. We are conscious that you may find the topic distressing and that you well have experienced a baby loss yourself; we want to make sure that you have access to support for your own welfare. Should you require immediate, confidential support including counselling or coaching, you can contact the Education Partnership helpline on 08000 562 561 or at

Managing any absences and facilitating a return to work

❱ Facilitate your member of staff’s needs for time off to recover physically and mentally from her experience.

❱ Make sure that any pregnancy related sickness is recorded separately from other sickness absence. These absences should not count towards any review or trigger point in an absence policy or in any redundancy selection criteria.

❱ Ensure that any absences related to pregnancy or maternity are not used to deny pay progression or to thwart a woman’s career opportunities.

❱ If a woman decides to return to work within six months of having a stillbirth or giving birth to her baby who later died, her employer must carry out an individual risk assessment to make sure that arrangements are in place to protect her health and safety. You can make use of the NEU model pregnancy risk assessment on our website.

❱ When a woman is ready to return to work following a baby loss, discuss her needs with her, including what support she needs. This might include a temporary workplace adjustment, for example some working from home or a phased return to work. Sometimes a period of counselling might be appropriate.

❱ Make a note that a woman or parent might need support on the anniversary of her baby loss. Statutory bereavement leave is available to parents who have lost a baby through stillbirth or neonatal death and can be arranged to coincide with the anniversary of a baby loss.

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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