After a loss, it can be hard to do daily tasks for yourself. Things like preparing meals, completing chores, and caring for family members become challenging. But what happens to your work? Bereavement leave isn’t usually required at most workplaces, so how do employees handle different types of loss?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is Bereavement Leave?
- Can You Take Bereavement Leave for Miscarriages in the US?
- Who Usually Qualifies for Bereavement Leave for Miscarriages?
- How Should You Ask for Time Off After a Miscarriage?
- How to Inform Your Workplace of a Miscarriage
For families coping with miscarriage, bereavement leave gives everyone time to grieve, heal, and prepare themselves to reenter the workforce. However, there is a lot of misunderstanding around bereavement leave, particularly for miscarriage.
In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about bereavement leave for miscarriage, specifically. While the laws vary by US state and your particular company and position, you’ll want to make sure you take full advantage of any time off you might qualify for.
What Is Bereavement Leave?
First, let’s define bereavement leave in the United States. This is a policy most companies have that gives employees time off to deal with grief after they lose a loved one. Bereavement leave isn’t required federally, but many companies take action to create policies with their employees’ mental wellness in mind.
Bereavement leave is allowed for any type of family member loss. This could be a parent, spouse, child, sibling, or even a close friend. In most cases, after notifying the employer, the employee is entitled to three days of paid leave. The employee might request additional, unpaid leave.
During this time, the grieving employee can take care of final affairs, express their grief, and connect with friends and family. For many people, being able to put work-related focuses aside temporarily is the best way to grieve effectively.
For businesses that don’t have bereavement leave (typically smaller businesses), employees may be able to use vacation pay. This will count towards their overall vacation or “sick days,” but it allows them the same paid benefits.
Can You Take Bereavement Leave for Miscarriages in the US?
Whether or not you can take bereavement leave for a miscarriage depends on your company’s size and bereavement policy. To start, it’s important to note that if the miscarriage results in any health complications or disabilities, most states have specific protections for employees.
For example, any employee who experiences health complications as a result of a miscarriage in California is entitled to time off under the state’s pregnancy disability leave (PDL) laws. These pregnancy disability laws are common in many states, so check with your specific region’s guidelines. Knowing your rights after a miscarriage ensures that you get the care and time you need to heal.
Additionally, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible workers have the right to take unpaid leave to care for any “serious health conditions.” Under FMLA, miscarriage is considered a serious medical condition.
However, if you work for an employer with under 50 employees, they aren’t required to offer this leave. Additionally, you’re limited to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA each year. Your state might also require paid sick leave, but this is less common. Most large companies provide up to three days of bereavement leave per year to eligible employees.
Who Usually Qualifies for Bereavement Leave for Miscarriages?
There are also common misunderstandings around who qualifies for bereavement leave for miscarriages. Under pregnancy disability leave laws, this usually only applies to the individual carrying the child. However, some states might cover both parents.
As for bereavement leave for miscarriages, companies that offer miscarriage leave should do so for both parents. This means both parents will be able to take the time off that they need to heal after this loss.
Again, you should check with your company’s bereavement leave policy, what’s included, and what’s covered. If there is any type of leave offered for miscarriage, this is not only for the pregnant individual.
Join Cake's monthly newsletter.
Learn all you need to know about end-of-life.
How Should You Ask for Time Off After a Miscarriage?
Asking for time off after a loss is understandably challenging. Not many people know how to ask for leave without sharing too much about their situation or opening fresh emotional wounds. In general, follow these tips below:
- Timely: Request time off in a timely manner. This is something you should request immediately after your loss to take full advantage and avoid any delays.
- Understand policies: Look into policies at your company before you need to request time off. Otherwise, talk to HR about your options.
- Written: Your request should always be written (physical or digital) to ensure proper documentation.
- Time off: How much time do you want to take off? Have a good idea of this before making your request so your employer can delegate your work. How long you should take off after a death is a personal choice with no clear answer, but most people take between three days and two weeks.
- Professional: Don’t feel any pressure to share more about your situation than you’re comfortable with. This is a highly personal matter, and your employer is not entitled to personal information about your loss.
- Privacy: That being said, it’s only natural for those in your office to have questions about your wellbeing. Addressing these questions is entirely up to you, but you may wish to share a simple message with everyone to avoid probing, painful questions in the future.
Miscarriage bereavement leave template for employees
Because finding the right words to say after a loss is always challenging, we created a simple template you can use to share with your employer. You might also wish to loop in other coworkers to avoid unwanted questions later, but this is entirely up to you.
I am writing to request bereavement leave. My partner and I lost our pregnancy last night, and I would like to request bereavement leave to cope with this loss. I will be out of the office from Date to Date. Should you need to reach me while I’m away, please contact me at 555-5555. I appreciate your understanding at this time.
How to Inform Your Workplace of a Miscarriage
It’s only natural for people to have questions about your loss. How you choose to deal with your pregnancy loss is always up to you, but you might choose to inform some of your coworkers about the miscarriage to stop gossip or unwanted questions.
Though they might be well-intentioned, you’ll want to ensure that your coworkers give you the support you need, both during and after your bereavement leave. You can either share a message yourself via email or ask your manager to share on your behalf.
Here are some different ways to share this heartbreaking news with your workplace:
Message to the manager
Hi Manager Name, I wanted to let you know that I recently lost a pregnancy. This is an upsetting time, and I’ll need some patience to work through my feelings. I would appreciate it if you could share this sensitive information with the team on my behalf. I would like to avoid talking about this myself, if possible. Thank you for understanding.
Message to the entire team
Hello everyone, I wanted to let you all know that I recently lost the baby. Both my partner and I are heartbroken. Though I need some time to process my emotions, I am open to your kind words and support. Thank you.
Simple email to the team
Thank you all for your support during my pregnancy. Unfortunately, I recently had a miscarriage. I wanted to make sure you all understood why I needed some time to myself for a while. Please respect my request for privacy at this time. Thank you for understanding.
Take the Time You Need After a Miscarriage
A miscarriage or pregnancy loss is never easy, but you can take the time you need to process these feelings with those you trust the most. Whether you take the full bereavement leave offered by your company or return to work sooner rather than later is up to you.
There are a number of federal, state, and local laws that protect those experiencing miscarriage, and many of these apply to both partners. This loss is very real, raw, and heartbreaking. It’s only normal to grieve before returning to work.