Family retailer will offer three days at full pay to all employees, regardless of gender, including those with a surrogate mother affected by an early pregnancy loss & miscarriage
Lidl Ireland is set to become the first company across the island of Ireland to update its Compassionate Leave Policy to reflect the inclusion of three days at full pay to employees who have experienced or been affected by early pregnancy loss and miscarriage. This extends to all employees, regardless of gender, including those with a surrogate mother. The inclusion of early pregnancy loss and miscarriage support in Lidl’s renewed Compassionate Leave Policy recognises that early pregnancy loss and miscarriage is a bereavement, and one not isolated to women or heterosexual couples. The extension of the policy will offer paid compassionate leave along with a robust support system including 24-hour access to their Employee Assistance Programme for mental health, up to five free sessions with a professional counsellor and a peer or colleague support system, should an employee wish to avail of it.
Lidl’s ambition is to encourage a national conversation to help destigmatise isolating and traumatic reproductive health challenges which are lived by so many people in Ireland every day. While more than 50,000 Irish women give birth every year, a further 15,000, or more than one in four, pregnancies end in early pregnancy loss and miscarriage. It’s believed that this figure could be significantly higher due to the silence surrounding early pregnancy loss.
Currently, in the event of a stillbirth occurring after the 24th week of pregnancy, an employee is entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave. In Ireland at present, there is no entitlement to statutory maternity leave in the case of miscarriage or stillbirth occurring up to and including the 24th week of pregnancy. Lidl offers at least 20 days paid sick leave per annum to all employees and most, but not all, employees will utilise the company’s illness benefit scheme in the event of suffering an early pregnancy loss or miscarriage. However, some employees do not feel comfortable telling their employer about their loss which leads to a further sense of isolation at a most traumatic time. In launching this new policy, Lidl is committing to supporting all employees who suffer the devastating loss of a pregnancy, whether it happens directly to them, their partner or their baby’s surrogate mother, regardless of the nature of their loss.
Deirdre Pierce McDonnell, Chairperson of the Miscarriage Association of Ireland said: “The experience of early pregnancy loss and miscarriage can be deeply distressing, both emotionally and physically, and it is something that is still not commonly talked about. Lidl identifying the need for this change in policy and the importance of recognising the silently grieving can only be beneficial to us as a society. We need to remove the stigma surrounding early pregnancy loss and miscarriage, encourage a national conversation in acknowledging the isolation that our colleagues and peers experience and ultimately affect change in how we behave towards and support those affected.”
Denise White-Hughes, Head of Employee Relations, Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland said: “At Lidl, we recognise the needs of our employees are evolving all of the time as they progress though different stages of their lives, and we want to ensure that we are facilitating those needs in the most sensitive and supportive way that we can.
The silence around pregnancy loss has forced many to cope with it alone and we want to ensure that we help to lift that silence and offer support for all those who have experienced this loss.
There is already provision for leave for late-term pregnancy loss and miscarriage after six months, and following feedback from our colleagues, we have designed this updated policy to not only recognise a pregnancy loss and miscarriage as a bereavement but to support our colleagues who suffer this shattering loss at every stage, and equip our teams to help support those affected in a meaningful and sensitive way.”
Lidl’s new early pregnancy loss and miscarriage leave policy is part of the retailer’s robust employee benefit scheme in the area of Maternity & Adoptive Leave. This includes Maternity Leave, Adoptive Leave, Paternity Leave, Parents Leave, Fostering Leave, Parental Leave & Carers Leave. Lidl’s Lupilu Family Leave programme is part of Lidl’s industry leading employee benefits package designed to support and develop employees, ensuring that they can achieve their potential whilst balancing the demands of taking time out of work to care for their families.
J.P. Scally, CEO, Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland commented: “We’re proud to introduce these important policy changes in the area of early pregnancy loss and miscarriage. Our new policy is designed to provide strong supports to those suffering a loss, supporting them on their return to work and making the tools available to our workforce to ensure they have the confidence to support their colleagues with compassion.”
Lidl Ireland was recognised for its industry leading employee benefits packages, with the company recently named Top Employer for 2021 by the Top Employer’s association. The esteemed international, sought-after certification showcases an organisation’s dedication to a better world of work, exhibited through excellent HR policies and people practices.