Expanding Existing Bereavement Leave Policies to Account for Fertility Related Losses

Bereavement leave policies generally aim to provide employees with paid leave following the death of a family member.  These policies, however, often fail to acknowledge the grief that employees experience upon a fertility related loss, such as a miscarriage.  Fertility related losses are very common (with more than 1 in 4 pregnancies resulting in miscarriage) and frequently result in post-traumatic stress disorder (with almost 1 in 3 women developing PTSD after a miscarriage), and yet they remain largely unaddressed in the workplace.  An expanded bereavement leave benefit is one way that an employer can acknowledge the emotional and overall well-being of its employees during a time of loss.

Some states and cities have already mandated bereavement leave recognizing fertility loss.  Illinois law, for example, provides up to two (2) weeks of unpaid bereavement leave both in connection with the death of a family member and following losses associated with certain pregnancy, fertility, surrogacy and adoption-related events.  But these laws are few and far between leaving private employers to decide whether, and how, to acknowledge fertility loss in their bereavement leave policies.

In thinking through this issue, employers should consider the following: 

Fertility related loss should not disadvantage an employee’s professional development and potential career growth opportunities.  Taking actionable steps towards implementing policies that acknowledge the emotional toll of fertility loss is important for employees but has also been shown to have positive outcomes for the employer.  Inclusion informed policies help to retain talent and promote recruitment opportunities.  

Thanks to Mintz project analyst Giselle Mota for her valuable contribution to this blog post.

©1994-2024 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.
National Law Review, Volumess XIII, Number 254