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Why has Channel 4 chosen to act now?

  • Channel 4 is taking a lead on a sensitive topic as it embarks on a new four-part series documenting the experiences of parents and medical staff delivering their babies during difficult pregnancies.

  • Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles communicates the harsh fact that pregnancy loss remains more common than we would wish to believe, with the Miscarriage Association estimating that a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.

  • A further one in every 200 births are classed as stillborn across the UK and it is estimated that a third of women will have an abortion within their lifetime.

  • Documenting the reality behind these figures, the broadcaster has been moved to implement a dedicated pregnancy policy for all staff, something it believes to be a world first.

What is the pregnancy loss policy?

  • In practical terms, the new support package will benefit women and men, irrespective of their role as mother, partner or surrogate, and no matter the exact nature of their loss and length of service. 

  • The generous policy grants two weeks' leave on full pay; paid leave for medical appointments; flexible working; and an array of resources including medical support, counseling and a buddying scheme to support employees returning to work after a loss.

  • As part of a coordinated response, the network will also appoint a pregnancy loss champion to oversee the implementation of these promises, dovetailing with the broadcaster’s mental health employee network 4Mind and in-house gender equality staff network 4Women.

  • Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said: “At Channel 4 we recognize that the loss of a pregnancy, no matter the circumstances, can be a form of grief that can have a lasting emotional and physical impact on the lives of many women and their partners. Our dedicated policy by 4Women will help confront a subject that remains taboo whilst providing Channel 4’s employees with vital tools and support. We hope that by giving away this pioneering policy we’re able to encourage other organizations to do the same.”

What is the background to this stance?

  • Channel 4’s intervention comes as other companies introduce specific miscarriage policies after New Zealand introduced three-day bereavement leave.

  • While neither Britain nor the US currently has any statutory rights in this area, it has been left to individual companies to draft individual responses, including agencies such as VMLY&R which has plans to standardize the terms of its miscarriage policy across Asia.

  • The measure follows the introduction of a menopause policy in 2019 which saw the broadcaster shine a light on a taboo subject to help eliminate the stigma around women’s health issues.

How is the pregnancy loss policy being communicated?

  • Later today 4Women will field a live virtual panel discussion to explore issues surrounding pregnancy loss and what role business can play in alleviating the pain of miscarriage.

  • This coincides with the broadcast of Baby Surgeons: Delivering Miracles on Channel 4 tonight at 9pm, also available to stream on All4.