Despite 1 in 4 pregnancies resulting in miscarriage, the topic is still extremely taboo. Many businesses are not equipped with a procedure that lays out how to handle time off in this situation.
The emotional pain of losing a child could reasonably prevent a woman from returning to work. However, it is the physical injuries of a miscarriage that dictate how much time a female employee can legally take.
New York laws allow women who have miscarried time away from work to recover. Because emotional recovery from the incident is subjective, the state treats the condition like any other debilitating illness or injury that occurred outside of work.
The benefits and leave that are offered depend on the severity of the physical injuries the miscarriage caused. A certified doctor or nurse-midwife must sign off on a medical report stating that the employee’s injuries are a “disability” that resulted from pregnancy.
Under New York's Disability Benefits Law, employees can receive weekly pay for up to 26 weeks. However, this pay will only be half of the employee’s average weekly wage for the last eight weeks worked and cannot exceed $170 per week.
Other paid-leave options
Another way a woman who has miscarried may be able to take paid leave from work is by taking vacation and sick days she has accrued. Employers should never reprimand a worker for taking this time off.
If you have an employee who has had a tragic event happen, you may consider setting up a system in which other employees can donate their accrued vacation days. This will build community in the business, help those going through tough times and ensure that there are still employees around to help meet company goals.
If an employee behaves maliciously or is unsupportive in direct response to another worker's pregnancy or miscarriage, they are in violation of anti-discrimination laws under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The following behaviors are examples of retaliation that should not be tolerated:
- Inhibiting career growth
- Making rude or discriminatory remarks about pregnancy or miscarriage
- Terminating an employee's position upon hearing of their pregnancy, miscarriage or request to take leave for either condition
- Requesting more of the employee upon hearing of their pregnancy or miscarriage
- Endangering the safety or health of the employee by refusing to make reasonable accommodations
To ensure that this behavior does not cost the company, it's a good idea to conduct regular training on how leadership employees should handle pregnancy-related matters.
Learn more about your rights as an employer
To learn more about the rights of your business and your employees, consult with an experienced Employment Law attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate the benefits you should offer during this emotionally, financially and physically trying time.