East African Breweries Limited (EABL) has started giving female employees who experience pregnancy loss up to six and half months paid leave to grieve, a move that sets a new bar for Kenya’s companies on diversity and inclusion.
The policy aligns with that of its parent company, Diageo, which first introduced the pregnancy loss leave in September last year for its UK and Ireland markets.
The leave also extends to male employees whose spouses lose a pregnancy.
EABL says it has classified pregnancy loss as bereavement and is giving female employees or spouses up to 10 working days of paid leave if the pregnancy loss occurs before 20 weeks.
“We recognise that experiencing pregnancy loss is a grieving process that requires patience and time,” says EABL, which had 1,408 employees by the end of June.
“When pregnancy loss occurs after 20 weeks, the carrying female can access up to 26 weeks while the spouse can access up to 10 working days of paid leave.”
EABL’s move, which is part of its pregnancy loss guidelines, sets a new standard in promoting employee well-being at a time when many firms are cutting their spending on employees in an environment of rising operating expenses.
The brewer’s pregnancy loss guidelines create awareness on various types of pregnancy loss, including resources available to employees and line managers of those who may experience this loss.
The NSE-listed firm in July 2019 also set a high bar with the roll-out of generous maternity and paternity leaves.
EABL offers female employees a minimum of 26 weeks of fully paid maternity leave while male employees get a minimum of four weeks of paternity leave.
This was introduced to give workers enough time to take care of their young families as they continue to thrive at work.
Kenya’s law currently allows a fully paid three-month maternity leave and a two-week paternity break for fathers.
Many companies, however, frown upon these breaks, viewing them as an additional labour cost that sometimes forces them to hire temporary workers.
EABL already offers flexible working hours to lactating mothers and has also set up nursing rooms for them, matching the practice in several other top corporates like Safaricom.
Firms in Kenya are increasingly paying attention to diversity and inclusion at the workplace, including coming up with policies that promote equal pay and a level playing ground for promotions.
BAT Kenya, which usually discloses the gender pay gap in its reports, says it believes in creating a respectful and inclusive environment where people can thrive.
Equity Group, KCB and Centum have also followed in the diversity and inclusion race. The trend is driven by shareholders and financiers seeking to nudge firms to have a positive impact on people and society even as they seek to generate returns for their investors.
Pregnancy loss is an area which is often poorly understood due to the silence surrounding it. Globally, one in 10 women experience a miscarriage in their lifetime.
The pregnancy loss guidelines were created alongside Diageo’s Spirited Women’s Network resource group and sit alongside a suite of employee support that include guidelines focused on gender identity and gender expression, menopause and domestic and family abuse guidelines.
EABL is currently considering introducing an expanded compassionate leave that will extend to covering employees who lose close friends, just like its parent company.
Diageo employees who experience the loss of a child, spouse, partner or parent have access to up to 10 working days of paid bereavement leave.
Employees also have access to up to five days for the loss of another family member and one day for a close friend or non-family member.
“We want to provide employees with greater context, understanding and knowledge to compassionately navigate sensitive circumstances,” says Diageo.