Small and medium sized businesses in and around Manchester are being urged to sign up for free to a new government-funded platform designed to help them manage employees who are pregnant, struggling to conceive, or lose their baby during pregnancy.
1 in 4 pregnancies in the UK end in loss through miscarriage or other complications. But, sadly, research by Tommy’s and the CIPD shows that many employers don’t know how to navigate the situation. Employees – and employers’ ability to retain staff – suffer as a result.
A 2021 Tommy’s survey found that more than half (52%) of working parents have or would quit over a lack of support, but those who feel supported are more likely to stay with greater loyalty and commitment. It costs on average £30,000 to replace an employee.
69% of employees felt that their manager wanted to support them – but only 1 in 3 told Tommy’s that the manager knew how to do it.
1 in 7 couples in the UK may have difficulties conceiving, which can have a significant impact on their wellbeing and mental health, but a 2023 CIPD report found that less than 20% felt supported at work while having fertility challenges.
A recent report by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust, who have introduced a dedicated pregnancy loss policy for colleagues, discovered that a policy providing 10 days of paid leave for those experiencing pregnancy loss would result in only 5.5 days’ additional leave being taken on average per person.
However, their reported feelings of being valued, supported and listened to would more than double compared to someone who did not use the policy.
Earlier this year, Tommy’s - the UK’s largest charity dedicated to stopping the heartbreak of baby loss and making pregnancy and birth safe for everyone - was awarded government funding to roll out its popular corporate e-training and resource package (Pregnancy and Parenting at Work) to smaller businesses until March 2025.
Over the past 2 years, larger companies such as Santander, BUPA, members of the Virgin group, several NHS trusts and South Staffordshire College have signed up to Tommy’s paid training package, called Pregnancy and Parenting at Work.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Department for Health and Social Care’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Fund, Tommy’s can offer Birmingham and Manchester SMEs (typically, companies with fewer than 250 employees) the service at no cost.
From manager training courses to time-saving templates, SMEs can access free or reduced government-funded access to support their employees through every pregnancy journey – from fertility treatment and conception to pregnancy complications, premature birth, and baby loss.
Forward Carers, a Birmingham-based carers support service, recently joined the Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting at Work service for SMEs. The non-profit organisation’s programme manager Anna Smith says:
“At Forward Carers, we know that life doesn't stop the moment you walk through the office door. The things that happen in our personal lives influence our work, and vice versa. So, we believe in creating a culture and providing tools that empower staff to successfully manage life and work.
“Pregnancy and Parenting at Work training is a natural extension of our commitment to training managers and empowering staff to navigate the highs, and sometimes lows, that can affect any of our lives. We are delighted that we are one of Tommy's first members to sign up to their free Pregnancy and Parenting at Work training.”
Rosie Leverton, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Tommy’s says: “Baby loss at any point in the pregnancy journey is utterly devastating. In recent years we have begun to see more people talking about the subject openly – there's a little more understanding. Yet parents still face outdated and unhelpful HR policies and practices.
“Even when the policies do follow the best practice, often the gap between the implementation and the policy still results in an unsupportive experience for the employee, simply because the manager has no guidance on actually putting it into practice.”
By signing up to the Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting at Work programme for SMEs, employers can better support employees going through any stage of growing their family, from fertility, pregnancy and new parenting to complications and baby loss.
Tommy’s hopes that through the Birmingham and Manchester scheme – which may then be rolled out across the country – some 15,000 people will benefit from more flexible and compassionate workplaces, while employers will also reap the long-term benefits.
Businesses can also apply to become a Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting Champion through the charity’s accreditation scheme – signalling the company’s commitment to change for the better.
Tommy’s Pregnancy and Parenting at Work for SMEs was launched on Tuesday 19 September.
Businesses in Manchester should use the code MANTOM for free registration.
Supported by the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Fund, part of a partnership programme between Department of Health & Social Care, NHS England and UK Health Security Agency.