79% state their employer does not provide bereavement support

Clea Harmer bereavement support

More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents state that their employer does not offer or provide any internal or external bereavement support upon the return to work following the death of a baby, according to research by stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands.

The survey of 2,769 respondents included 89% bereaved parents, 6% bereaved grandparents and 5% other family members. It also found that 49% of respondents were not approached by their employer to discuss entitlements to pay and leave following the death of their baby.

The research also found:

  • 42% of respondents were not offered any additional time away from work following the death of their baby.
  • 43% of respondents report that no one talked to them about the death of their baby when they returned to work.
  • 26% of respondents took compassionate leave after the death of their baby, 23% took sick leave, 3% used annual leave and 6% arranged unpaid leave.

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Dr Clea Harmer (pictured), chief executive officer at Sands, said: “Sadly, the death of a baby is not a rare event, but too often bereaved parents are faced by a wall of silence, because people around them, family, friends, and colleagues, are lost for words. We want everyone to know how to start a conversation with anyone whose baby has died, however long ago.

“For grieving parents, returning to work may be a difficult step, but the workplace can be a vital source of support. The government is proposing two weeks of additional pay and leave for bereaved parents from 2020, but we need employers to do more right now to ensure parents know their rights, and that colleagues feel comfortable in talking to parents about the death of their baby.”