The Co-op is offering paid leave and time off for medical appointments as part of measures to help staff suffering from a pregnancy loss.
The retail giant said it wanted to support staff affected by a miscarriage, stillbirth, embryo transfer loss, molar pregnancy or termination of pregnancy for any reason.
The new policy, which supports both parents, has been created in partnership with the Miscarriage Association, and includes flexible paid leave, a guide for managers to help offer support, time off for medical appointments and emergency leave for workers if a member of their family suffers a pregnancy loss.
Access to GP support will also be available through the Co-op’s Smart Health virtual service.
Shirine Khoury-Haq, the Co-op’s chief financial officer, said: “Losing a baby at any stage in a pregnancy is a devastating experience.
“The decision to discuss that with your employer is an incredibly difficult and personal one. Having lost our eldest daughter and having suffered several miscarriages myself and with our surrogate, I understand just how difficult it is to navigate your personal and professional life during such heartbreak.
“By creating a supportive environment, companies can go a long way in easing the stress that people in this situation often feel. I am very proud that the Co-op is recognising and supporting our colleagues at a time when they need it most.”
Caroline Nokes, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “It’s great to see the Co-op’s announcement place particular emphasis on the bereavement and grief of a pregnancy loss, rather than it being characterised as a ‘parental’ issue, this will ensure colleagues get the right level of support at a time when they most need it.
“By increasing understanding, changing attitudes and promoting compassion amongst its colleagues, Co-op is making that step-change needed to break the taboo. I hope more businesses follow suit and rise to the challenge to help both existing and future employees.”
Ruth Bender Atik, national director of the Miscarriage Association, said: “The Miscarriage Association is delighted to support Co-op’s dedicated pregnancy loss policy. It offers both practical and psychological support tailored to the diverse needs of colleagues and its detailed guidance is thoughtful and sensitive.
“Above all it acknowledges that pregnancy loss at any stage and under any circumstances can be a bereavement like any other.”