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  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust recognised as ‘Employer with Heart’ after becoming one of first to offer paid leave for staff undergoing fertility treatment or who experience baby loss or pre-term birth

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust recognised as ‘Employer with Heart’ after becoming one of first to offer paid leave for staff undergoing fertility treatment or who experience baby loss or pre-term birth

Tuesday 12 July 2022

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Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has been recognised an ‘Employer with Heart’ after becoming one of the first in the NHS to offer a package of support which includes periods of paid leave for staff who are undergoing fertility treatment, or who experience baby loss or have a premature birth.  

The Trust has put in place an extended Family Leave policy to ensure colleagues have the time and space to process, grieve and begin to heal at a time when they need it most. 

In addition, the Trust has also signed The Smallest Things’ Charter which sets out its intentions as an employer to support staff through early childbirth, and has been awarded an  ‘Employer with Heart’ charter mark by the charity because of this.

The new Extended Family Leave Policy includes:

  • Up to 10 days paid leave for the person who was pregnant and experiences pregnancy loss before 16 weeks, and up to five days paid leave for a partner who works at the Trust. This includes, but is not limited to, miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and neonatal loss. 
  • Any pregnancy loss after 16 weeks the pregnant woman/person and their partner would be entitled to the same maternity/paternity leave and pay as if the baby had survived.
  • Full pay for members of staff who give birth before 37 weeks, with paid leave from the date the baby was born up until their original Expected Week of Childbirth date, and two weeks paid leave for a partner of premature babies, as well as paternity leave.
  • Up to 5 days paid leave per cycle of fertility treatment for each partner, including partners who are supporting a surrogate in their fertility treatment.

Justine Jeffery, Director of Women and Children’s Services at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Our extended Family Leave policy is about providing a high standard of care and compassion to our colleagues when they are experiencing pregnancy loss at any gestation, infertility treatment and preterm delivery. 

“These changes allow them to have non-pressured time to enable them to process, grieve, heal and adjust to the life-changing events they have experienced. It also starts to break the taboo around these subjects and offers support and training to line managers to have helpful conversations with staff whilst they are off work and planning to return to work.

“Our passionate and caring colleagues who work within these specialised areas are very much aware of the additional unnecessary challenges and difficulties that couples/ families experience in relation to their employers. This is a real opportunity to do the right thing and make a difference in a positive way to support our colleagues in line with our strategic objective of recruiting and retaining the best people and our purpose of Putting Patients First.”

Tina Ricketts, Director of People and Culture at the Trust, added: “As a Trust that cares for families in this position, we understand how difficult and worrying a time it can be and we are proud to be one of the first to introduce this support. We want to take any additional anxiety, including financial, away from colleagues so they can fully concentrate on their baby and being a family.” 

The policy change has also been welcomed by Trust staff. One member of staff, who went through fertility treatment and a miscarriage herself, said: 

“This policy is just so important. Being diagnosed with infertility and then proceeding to have fertility treatments and then suffering with miscarriage has been the most lonely and difficult experience I have gone through. I honestly think it is impossible to go through fertility treatments whilst working full time with no adjustments. The policy means so much. It does mean that what I have gone through, and what others will, is important, and it is hard - and that is being recognized.” 

In addition to the Family Leave policy, the Trust is also working on a series of webinars staff can join to discuss and learn about wider issues facing families such as menopause, fertility treatment, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, early childbirth, and domestic violence.  It has also partnered with SANDS - the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK - to provide support packages for colleagues.