Supporting an employee with an ectopic pregnancy

Supporting an employee with an ectopic pregnancy

April 22, 2024


An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of a woman’s womb, usually in one of her fallopian tubes. The egg can continue to grow and can cause the fallopian tube to rupture; this in turn can lead to internal bleeding and frequently requires surgery. It is a life-threatening condition with potential physical and mental health implications. A woman who experiences an ectopic pregnancy often loses a fallopian tube which can reduce her fertility.

According to the NHS and RCOG, in the UK, just over 1 per cent of pregnancies are ectopic1. If you have experienced an ectopic pregnancy, you have our sympathy. Please follow our guidance on your rights at work and what steps you can take to protect yourself. If you suspect you are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy now, you should seek emergency medical advice.

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may occur from as early as four weeks into a woman’s pregnancy and up to 12 weeks or even later.

The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust offers advice for women on the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy and what steps to take. You can find contact details at the end of this blog.

How can you support an employee who reveals they have had an ectopic pregnancy?

The first you may be aware of an ectopic pregnancy may the Statement of Fitness for Work signing your employee as unfit for work.

Your employee has the protected characteristic of pregnancy, whilst pregnant and for 2 weeks after the pregnancy has ended.

We would therefore advise that you do not include absence relating to a pregnancy in your normal attendance monitoring and instead you should record it separately.

If the employee’s absence lasts longer than 4 weeks we would advise you treat as you would anyone who is on long term absence and carry out a welfare meeting to see what support you can give the employee to return. They may prefer a home visit or virtual meeting if they might otherwise see babies and children in the Nursery.

The employee may need a phased return to work following surgery and may need a risk assessment in relation to their return to work. More regular supervision to support the employee’s well being will be appreciated and if you have one referral to Employee Assistance Programme. Sadly one of the complications of ectopic pregnancies can be the removal of a fallopian tube which can affect a woman’s fertility in the future. Knowing your fertility could be impacted can lead to poor mental health.

Ectopic Pregnancy Trust

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