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22 Apr 2022

Stephenson Harwood launches benchmark-setting global fertility and pregnancy loss policies


Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has launched benchmark-setting global fertility and pregnancy loss policies. Applicable to all partners and employees globally, the policies outline the firm's approach to supporting its people through their journey to parenthood.

"We place the wellbeing of our people at the heart of our business, and these policies are another example of that," said Jeff Marlow, chief people and talent officer, Stephenson Harwood. "Fertility related challenges can impact every aspect of someone's life, and can have long-lasting mental, emotional and physical effects. And it's not just for those who are undergoing the treatment or experience the loss directly – we're also offering support to those whose partners are undergoing investigations or treatments, because we recognise the impact on them too. The same is true of our pregnancy loss policy, which is applicable to all of our people, whether the loss happens to them directly, to their partner or to their baby's surrogate parent.

"I'm genuinely proud of what we're offering – 10 days of paid leave for fertility related appointments, and the same again for pregnancy loss; and people whose partners are going through treatment or lose a pregnancy, can take up to five days. Of course there's flexibility beyond that, but we wanted to make sure that all our people knew the minimum they could expect from us. Shining a light on these challenges, and making it clear that our people don't need to suffer in silence, is key – in order for us to be supportive, we have to be open, and that's what having these policies is all about."

"Fortunately, many line managers and supervising partners have taken a compassionate and understanding approach to fertility challenges and pregnancy loss at the firm," said Suzanne Johnston, sponsor partner, Stephenson Harwood. "But that's not enough; it is vital to let our people know what they can expect from the firm, as a minimum, in terms of holistic support and paid leave for fertility challenges and pregnancy loss.

"I am passionate about the launch of both policies. I experienced recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility while working as a lawyer in private practice and in-house. To my own detriment, it took me a long time to confide in my bosses about my journey. I remember finding out I had lost a baby and going straight into a presentation. I didn’t know how to start the conversation with my boss or what their reaction would be. My hope is that the launch of these policies will encourage our people to speak up earlier so that they can get the support they need. We can't help with everything, but we can allow our people the space they need to attend medical and counselling appointments, grieve the loss of their pregnancy or a failed IVF transfer, and support their loved ones. I am delighted our policies operate globally and support men and women alike. They are a fantastic start."

These policies form part of Stephenson Harwood's 'Deal', the internal promise between the firm and its people of what each gives the other, and expects in return. All support outlined in the policies is available irrespective of length of service, relationship status, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.



Freddie Harrison
Communications & PR manager

T: +44 20 7809 2832 
Email Freddie

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