SHOPWORKERS have welcomed the Co-op’s introduction of paid time off for staff dealing with pregnancy loss, announced today by the retail giant.
The new policy, developed with the Miscarriage Association, includes support for all staff affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, embryo-transfer loss, molar pregnancy or termination for any reason.
It includes flexible paid leave, time off for medical appointments and emergency leave for workers if a family member suffers a pregnancy loss.
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw national officer John Gorle said: “Losing a baby is very distressing for both parents and we welcome the Co-op taking a lead in offering enhanced support for staff going through this.
“We know that conversations with an employer on such personal issues can be difficult and we’d urge our members to speak to the union, particularly their workplace rep, to ensure they are fully supported.
“In the case of a still birth, maternity leave and pay apply, however there are no statutory rights for those who suffer a miscarriage.
“Businesses like the Co-op which do the right thing and make special leave provisions are welcome, but the government should ensure that paid leave rights are available to all workers, regardless of their employer.”
The union, which has long called for significant improvements in statutory sick pay that is plunging many workers into poverty, said that low-paid workers should be helped to take necessary time off by ensuring there is no loss of income.
Co-op chief financial officer Shirine Khoury-Haq said: “I am very proud that the Co-op is recognising and supporting our colleagues at a time when they need it most.”
Miscarriage Association national director Ruth Bender Atik said the organisation was “delighted” to support the Co-op’s policy.
She said: “It offers both practical and psychological support tailored to the diverse needs of colleagues and its detailed guidance is thoughtful and sensitive.”