John Lewis & Partners (JLP) has become the latest UK business to offer paid leave to employees dealing with pregnancy loss. It has also announced that it will equalise the time off given to both new mothers and fathers – it will be the first UK retailer to do so.
JLP Chair, Dame Sharon White, said: “As an employee-owned business, equality matters to us. We want John Lewis and Waitrose to be a place for everyone and for people from all walks of life to feel valued so they can thrive in our business”.
She went on: “We want to be there for our partners to support them in important life moments, whether that’s stepping into the world of work for the first time, or becoming a parent”.
The policies will begin from Autumn 2021 and will entitle employees to 26 weeks of paid leave, with 14 at full pay and 12 at half pay for staff who have worked within the Partnership for at least one year.
Those who experience pregnancy loss will also be entitled to take two weeks of paid leave under the new policies. This decision follows similar moves from companies such as Channel 4, Monzo, and Abel & Cole in recent months. UK law currently only entitles prospective parents to time off if the baby is lost after the 24-week mark.
Jacqui Clinton, who directs the pregnancy charity “Tommy’s” corporate Pregnancy and Parenting at Work service, said: “Baby loss at any stage in pregnancy is one of the most heart-breaking things any family can experience – and one that’s endured all too frequently, but often quietly, because of persistent stigma in society”.
“It’s fantastic to see companies acknowledging this impact and tackling this taboo by creating dedicated leave policies; this will help anyone who’s struggling to reach out, and to feel confident and supported in doing so”.
MP Caroline Nokes, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee also praised the decision, saying that, “The pandemic has been particularly hard for families juggling all sorts of different demands and pressures and I am pleased but not surprised the John Lewis Partnership has risen to the challenge to help both existing and future employees”.
A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “It is wonderful that JLP and many other UK companies are beginning to acknowledge the extent of emotional and physical suffering the loss of a baby can ensue at any stage of pregnancy. It is time the law itself caught up with this reality and permitted paid leave for anyone who has lost a baby. However, decisions such as these also continue to highlight the cruelty and inconsistency of abortion law by bringing into focus the fact that babies lost before 24 weeks are still babies and that loss at any stage of pregnancy is a tragedy.”.