Lidl Ireland will offer three days of leave at full pay to all employees affected by an early pregnancy loss or miscarriage.
The company claims to be the first in Ireland to recognise early pregnancy loss and miscarriage as a bereavement, as part of its new compassionate leave policy.
In Ireland at present, an employee is entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave if a stillbirth occurs after the 24th week of pregnancy. However, there is no entitlement to statutory maternity leave in the case of miscarriage or stillbirth occurring up to and including the 24th week of pregnancy.
Miscarriage is a bereavement, and one not isolated to women or heterosexual couples
Lidl’s paid compassionate leave will be available to all employees, regardless of gender, including those with a surrogate mother. The company said its policy “recognises that early pregnancy loss and miscarriage is a bereavement, and one not isolated to women or heterosexual couples”.
The leave will come with 24-hour access to Lidl’s employee assistance programme for mental health, up to five free sessions with a professional counsellor, and a peer or colleague support system.
Chairperson of the Miscarriage Association of Ireland, Deirdre Pierce McDonnell, said there was a need for a national conversation regarding early pregnancy loss and miscarriage.
“The experience of early pregnancy loss and miscarriage can be deeply distressing, both emotionally and physically, and it is something that is still not commonly talked about,” she said.
“Lidl identifying the need for this change in policy and the importance of recognising the silently grieving can only be beneficial to us as a society.
“We need to remove the stigma surrounding early pregnancy loss and miscarriage, encourage a national conversation in acknowledging the isolation that our colleagues and peers experience and ultimately affect change in how we behave towards and support those affected.”
Head of Employee Relations at Lidl Ireland, Denise White-Hughes, said the company hoped to help “lift” the silence surrounding pregnancy loss.
“Following feedback from our colleagues, we have designed this updated policy to not only recognise a pregnancy loss and miscarriage as a bereavement but to support our colleagues who suffer this shattering loss at every stage, and equip our teams to help support those affected in a meaningful and sensitive way,” she said.
Chief executive of Lidl Ireland, JP Scally, said: “We’re proud to introduce these important policy changes in the area of early pregnancy loss and miscarriage.
“Our new policy is designed to provide strong supports to those suffering a loss, supporting them on their return to work and making the tools available to our workforce to ensure they have the confidence to support their colleagues with compassion.”
In Ireland, more than one in four pregnancies end in early pregnancy loss and miscarriage.