Boris Johnson basically flat out reject calls for miscarriage leave

·3-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Boris Johnson has rejected calls for paid miscarriage leave (before 24 weeks of pregnancy), stating that, "no payment [the government] could make would be any consolation to those who experience a miscarriage."

The current law in the UK entitles workers to two weeks of bereavement leave following the death of a child under the age of eighteen, including stillbirths after 24 weeks of pregnancy. While workers can still take sick leave (which may or may not be unpaid), there's currently no bereavement leave available for workers who experience a miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In today's Prime Minister's Questions (7 July), Scottish National Party MP Angela Crawley asked Boris Johnson whether or not he would support her Miscarriage Leave Bill, which would legislate "paid leave for people who have experienced miscarriage."

Angela Crawley began, "One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage," before asking, "Does the Prime Minister agree that parents' grief for this profound loss is not an illness [and that] parents should receive formal miscarriage leave, rather than resort to sick pay or unpaid leave if their [miscarriage] occurs before 24 weeks?"

She continued, "Will the Prime Minister support my Private Members Bill and introduce paid miscarriage leave for parents?"

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Boris Johnson responded by saying, "I sympathise deeply with anybody whose suffered the loss of a baby by miscarriage. What I can tell [Angela Crawley] is that we did introduce in 2020 a paid parental bereavement leave that entitles those who lose a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy to some payment.

"But of course, nothing I can say and no payment we could make would be any consolation to those who experience a miscarriage in that way."

Photo credit: AleksandarNakic - Getty Images
Photo credit: AleksandarNakic - Getty Images

Hmm, we're not sure the Prime Minister *actually* answered the question there. While he did reference the current legislation around bereavement leave, he failed to specify whether he'd support new legislation that would apply to workers who experience a miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy.

As one Twitter user wrote, "It is not about a payment, it is about having time to process the loss of a baby without the added stress of taking this time without financial stress."

Indeed, miscarriage leave is about peace of mind, rather than money. It's about knowing you're legally entitled to a period of time away from work in which to process the miscarriage, without also having to worry about how your employer is going to react.

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Pregnant Then Screwed, a charity working to end discrimination against mothers, tweeted, "So it's a big fat no from @BorisJohnson on formal miscarriage leave before 24 weeks."

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It comes as New Zealand approved a similar bereavement law earlier on in the year, which stipulates that both the person carrying the baby and their partner will be eligible for three days of paid bereavement leave if they experience a miscarriage at any time during the pregnancy.

Perhaps it's time for our Prime Minister to take note?

If you're looking for support or more information about premature births, stillbirths or miscarriage, Tommy's have a free helpline 0800 0147 800 (open 9 - 5, Monday to Friday). There's also a Facebook group.


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