Channel 4 has launched its first dedicated policy to support employees through pregnancy loss.
The policy includes but is not limited to miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion and recognises pregnancy loss as an experience not limited to women or heterosexual couples. It will support both women and men who have been affected, whether it happens directly to the employee, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother, and regardless of the nature of their loss or their length of service at Channel 4.
The broadcaster says it consulted several charities to create the policy, which will offer two weeks' leave on full pay, paid leave for medical appointments, flexible working and resources including medical support, counselling and a buddying scheme to support employees returning to work after a loss.
Channel 4 has also appointed a “Pregnancy Loss Champion” within its People team. Its in-house gender equality staff network 4Women developed the policy, with support from mental-health employee network 4Mind and its Parents and Carers community.
The company is publishing the details of the policy with the aim of encouraging other organisations to create their own. The launch coincides with new Channel 4 series Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles, which debuts on Monday (26 April).
An estimated one in every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, according to The Miscarriage Association. One in every 200 births in the UK each year is classed as stillborn, and it is estimated that one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
The issue of workplace pregnancy loss policies has come into the spotlight recently after New Zealand’s parliament passed a bill in March to give mothers and their partners three days of bereavement leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
New Zealand is not the first country to introduce legislation for miscarriage leave – many countries in Asia have already done so. For example, India introduced a bill in 1961 granting six weeks of fully paid leave for women who experience a miscarriage.
In the UK advertising industry, the agencies Creature and Lucky Generals launched miscarriage policies last year. Channel 4, however, said it believed its comprehensive policy on pregnancy loss was a world-first.
Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: “At Channel 4 we recognise that the loss of a pregnancy, no matter the circumstances, can be a form of grief that can have a lasting emotional and physical impact on the lives of many women and their partners.
"Our dedicated policy by 4Women will help confront a subject that remains taboo while providing Channel 4’s employees with vital tools and support. We hope that by giving away this pioneering policy we’re able to encourage other organisations to do the same.”