Monzo offers paid leave after pregnancy loss

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A digital bank is offering its workers paid leave after pregnancy loss, such as miscarriage or abortion.

Monzo's new policy echoes a similar move announced by broadcaster Channel 4 last month.

Both companies will allow either partner affected to take up to two weeks' additional paid leave.

"Monzo takes the mental health of its staff incredibly seriously," the bank said.

Under the new policy, workers who suffer from pregnancy loss, including stillbirth, miscarriage and abortion, will have up to 10 days' additional paid leave.

The leave will also be offered to workers who are partners or surrogate mothers, "recognising that pregnancy loss doesn't just affect women or heterosexual partners", the bank said.

It is also offering eight days' flexible paid leave to workers undergoing fertility treatments, diagnosis or consultations.

An estimated one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, according to the Miscarriage Association, which points out that a smaller but significant number will be ectopic or molar pregnancies.

But under UK employment law, businesses only have to allow parents to use planned maternity or paternity leave if they lose their baby after 24 weeks, when it is considered a stillbirth.

Any loss before that is counted as a miscarriage and does not qualify them for maternity leave or pay.

It is up to the discretion of individual employers whether to offer compassionate leave, annual leave or unpaid holiday.

Emotional impact

Channel 4's scheme includes two weeks' leave on full-pay; paid leave for medical appointments; flexible working; and resources such as medical support, counselling and a buddying scheme to support employees returning to work after a loss.

"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," said chief executive Alex Mahon.

"We hope that by giving away this pioneering policy, we're able to encourage other organisations to do the same."

Monzo - which was founded in 2015 and employs about 1,600 people - has also created an employee support group for its workers going through similar journeys.

"Pregnancy loss can be unexpected and extremely traumatic and we want our colleagues to feel that they can take the time to recover and that we fully support them in doing that," said Tara Mansfield, director of people experience at Monzo.

"The question for us was: why wouldn't we do this? People need time to heal both physically and mentally and if we can make that journey even slightly better, then that's what we want to do."

The new policy was quietly rolled out two months ago and will be expanded to its handful of US staff over the next six to eight weeks.

More companies

Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, told the BBC: "We've been talking about good employer practice around pregnancy loss in the workplace for some time, so these moves are really significant.

"They not only bring in the issue of pay, which could be very important for many people, but the policies also recognise and acknowledge that pregnancy loss at any stage can have a significant impact on people and is a bereavement like any other."

She said she hoped other companies would adopt similar policies.

"I'd like to see more companies adopt this and I hope they will. They'll recognise how important it is to people."

In March, New Zealand became one of the first countries in the world to offer support to couples who experience child loss at any stage of their pregnancy.

Couples in the country who have a miscarriage or stillbirth are eligible for three days' paid bereavement leave under a new law approved by the New Zealand parliament.

Similar laws have been introduced in India and the Philippines.

Monzo offers paid leave after pregnancy loss