October is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, a time to acknowledge those who have experienced pregnancy loss or infant death. While most pregnancies result in the delivery of healthy babies, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss (miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death). We thought this was an appropriate time to ensure that all Employers were aware of the recent changes to compassionate leave under the Fair Work Act, which now includes leave for miscarriage.
Pregnancy loss is an enormously challenging time for women and their partners, many of whom suffer alone due to the ongoing stigma associated with voicing the early loss of pregnancy. However, in September this year, the Federal Government introduced legislation that has added miscarriage to the compassionate and bereavement leave entitlements under the Fair Work Act. This means that two days of paid leave will be accessible to those who miscarry before 20 weeks (including their partners). Those who suffer a stillbirth (a loss of pregnancy after 20 weeks) already have access to compassionate leave.
Prior to this change in legislation, many women and their partners would return to work because they did not have leave available to them. The decision by Parliament to include miscarriage leave provides significant validation to women and their partners, that their loss of pregnancy is real, their grief is real, and they are therefore entitled to bereavement leave.
Now is the time to revisit your workplace leave policies and ensure that your employees are aware that this leave is available to them. It is a great time to review your policies and procedures and ensure they are up to date.
Don’t hesitate to call us at Rankin Business Lawyers if you need any assistance with the leave policies and procedures in your workplace.
Senior Associate, Workplace Relations/Employment Law