As part of our Finding the Words campaign to help everyone talk about baby loss we ran a survey to find out about the experiences of bereaved parents returning to work after the death of their baby, whether they were supported by their employer, and what would have helped them. 

Between 20 April and 11 May 2018 2,769 bereaved parents, grandparents, and other family members responded to our survey about about their own experiences of the death of a baby, or on behalf of someone else – such as a partner or family member. Respondents had experienced bereavement from up to 14 weeks through to within 28 days of birth, with a spread across all gestations. 

We shared the results of the survey on 1 June to launch our Finding the Words campaign. 

You can download an infographic to see more findings from the survey. 

If you're an employer, please find out more about how to support your own staff.

The following is a summary of the key findings of the survey:

Support after their baby died


  • After the death of their baby, most people sought support from family (81%), friends (62%) and employers (13%), but 12% did not seek support from anyone. 
  • People also mentioned Sands and other charities, the internet, counsellors and other health professionals, and religious organisations.
  • People felt most supported by family (rated 7/10) and friends (6/10), and least by employers (5/10) and the wider community (3/10).

Awareness of employment policies


  • Only one in five of people were aware of their employer’s policies for supporting staff if their baby died.
  • Almost half (49%) of employers did not discuss entitlements to pay and leave with people following the death of their baby.
  • Four in ten people were not offered any additional time away from work. Others took compassionate leave (26%), sick leave (23%), annual leave (3%) and unpaid leave (6%)
  • For those who were self-employed, over two thirds (69%) were not able to access information on benefits or financial support.

Returning to work


  • Almost a third (27%) of people were not contacted by their employer after their baby died. However, most of those who were contacted (62%) felt that their employer’s communication was sensitive and appropriate.
  • Almost everyone (95%) had previously shared news of their pregnancy with all colleagues.
  • However, only 46% of people were involved in deciding how or whether colleagues would be told that their baby had died and, after returning to work, 43% of people said no one talked to them about the death of their baby.

Support at work


  • Only one in five people said their employer offered or provided internal or external bereavement support.
  • People felt that a wide range of support would have been helpful, in particular extra support on anniversaries or other difficult dates (62%), counselling (55%) and information for colleagues (47%)
  • Only 39% were able to display photos of their baby in their work space if they wanted to.


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